- Associated Press - Monday, December 28, 2020

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Health experts are worried that gatherings over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays could lead to a spike in new virus cases in Nebraska in the weeks ahead.

CHI Health infectious disease Dr. David Quimby said he is particularly worried that New Year’s parties and public gatherings in bars could lead to more virus cases.

“If there are a fair amount of infected people in close environments, there will be an uptick in activity starting about a week or week and a half after New Year’s,” Quimby said.

The Douglas County Health Department is encouraging everyone to forego New Year’s parties to help limit the spread of the virus and continue wearing masks in public and working to maintain social distancing.

The state’s virus numbers have been improving since early this month when Nebraska ranked had the fifth-highest rate of new cases in the nation. As of Sunday, the state had the 33rd-highest rate of infection, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Nebraska said 527 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Sunday. That was up from 503 the day before but still well below the peak of 987 set on Nov. 20.

The state reported 637 new virus cases and no deaths Sunday to give it 161,974 cases and 1,559 deaths linked to the virus since the pandemic began.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Nebraska decreased over the past two weeks, going from 1,302.86 new cases per day on Dec. 13 to 846 new cases per day on Sunday.

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