Bulgaria Plans Lockdown to Contain Coronavirus Infection Surge | World News

SOFIA (Reuters) – Bulgaria plans to close schools, restaurants and shops and ban all sports events, private celebrations and excursions as it struggles to contain a coronavirus case surge.

The Balkan country’s health minister Kostadin Angelov said on Monday that the measures, to be debated by the centre-right government on Wednesday, were aimed at preventing a struggling health system from being overwhelmed.

New coronavirus cases have doubled in the past week to 23,569, Bulgarian health ministry data showed, bringing the total number to 121,820 in the country of 7 million.

Some 6,350 people are in hospitals, 1,000 more than a week ago, and more than 400 are in intensive care.

Hospitals are strained, with many short-staffed due to rising infections among medics, while ambulances have been searching for coronavirus beds in major cities.

Bulgaria’s COVID-19 fatalities per 100,000 people are the third highest in the European Union in the past 14 days, data showed. In total, 2,880 people have died from COVID-19.

“No matter how prepared, no (health) system can withstand such a pressure,” Angelov told reporters.

“We cannot afford to lose the lives of young people, of old people, of doctors and of teachers,” he added.

Under the plan, which if approved will be enforced from Nov. 27, schools and universities will switch to online studies, while kindergartens and nurseries will be closed.

Sports and cultural events will be banned, including seminars, conferences and private celebrations. All restaurants, bars and cafes will be shut, as well as all shops except for pharmacies, food stores and banks.

Tourist trips both at home and abroad will also be banned.

Earlier, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said the measures should be balanced to keep the small and open economy going and Angelov said he hoped the measures could allow some easing for the Christmas holidays.

(Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by Alexander Smith)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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Hundreds of bodies from New York virus surge still stored in freezer trucks

Hundreds of bodies remain in storage in freezer trucks in New York months after their deaths during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic in the spring, The Wall Street Journal reported.



a man riding on the back of a truck: Hundreds of bodies from New York virus surge still stored in freezer trucks


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Hundreds of bodies from New York virus surge still stored in freezer trucks

City officials told the Journal that there are about 650 bodies in storage on the 39th Street Pier in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said the bodies are largely those of people who could not afford a burial or whose next of kin could not be located.

Such bodies would ordinarily have been buried on Hart Island, according to the newspaper, but Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) pledged in April that those burials would not occur during the coronavirus pandemic.

Some 230 victims’ relatives have not yet been located, the chief medical examiners’ office said. Officials said relatives have not had the money to collect the bodies in other cases.

The city nearly doubled the burial subsidy it offers in May, the Journal noted, but the $1,700 offered is still far short of the $9,000 average cost for a traditional burial or the $6,500 cost of a service and cremation.

Dina Maniotis, the chief medical examiner’s office’s executive deputy commissioner, told the newspaper that while anyone has the right to request a free burial on Hart Island, numerous family members are not clear on their options.

“This has been traumatic,” she said. “We are working with them as gently as we can and coaxing them along to make their plans. Many of them will decide they want to go to Hart Island, which is fine.”

Aden Naka, the office’s deputy director of forensic investigations, added that the unit is only equipped to handle about 20 deaths per day, about one-tenth of those it was faced with at the height of the pandemic in the city.

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Wear masks, Michigan Medicine leaders tell public as hospitalizations surge

ANN ARBOR, MI — Michigan Medicine leaders are calling on the public to not let its guard down as hospitals across the state experience rapid surges in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

It’s imperative Michigan caregivers stay healthy so they can take care of an expected surge in cases this winter, Marschall Runge, Michigan Medicine CEO and dean of the University of Michigan’s medical school, said in a Thursday, Nov. 18 news conference that also announced a joint nationwide campaign to encourage mask wearing.

Michigan Medicine has joined around 100 of the nation’s top health care systems in the #MaskUp campaign, which urges all Americans to mask up, in an effort to slow the surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, Runge said.

A large surge in cases requiring hospitalizations for COVID-19 due to the lack of adherence to mitigation strategies has the potential to overwhelm health systems, said Laraine Washer, Michigan Medicine’s medical director of infection prevention and epidemiology.

“I’m very glad that we at Michigan Medicine are joining with healthcare systems nationwide to encourage the simple behaviors that are proven to work: Mask up, socially distance, wash your hands,” Washer said.

Like many other hospitals across the state, Michigan Medicine is facing short staffing, Runge said, adding the healthcare system is developing a plan to make sure it can provide necessary care.

“Given the widespread community transmission, hospitals are also managing staffing limitations due to employee illness, absences and responsibilities for childcare,” Washer said.

During the past three weeks, Michigan Medicine has seen an increase in COVID-19 patients, Runge said. This week alone, Michigan Medicine had as many as 75 COVID-19 positive patients at one time, with up to 20 of them being critically ill and requiring ICU care, officials said.

“Following the spring and early summer COVID surge — the first wave, so to speak — we resumed care of many non-COVID patients that need hospitalization, and our hospitals are about 90% full as a result,” Runge said. “With that high occupancy, which we did manage pre-COVID, that puts additional strain on our response to the pandemic.”

The health system’s testing capacity is approximately 10,000 COVID-19 tests per week, while its laboratories continue to develop new strategies to implement different types of COVID tests, officials said.

Michigan Medicine’s testing results recently showed about 14% of those tested are testing positive for COVID, well above the 5% mark reported for most of the summer months, Runge said.

“At Michigan Medicine, and all of Michigan’s healthcare providers, we need your help,” Runge said. “To combat a pandemic we need supplies, we need space and most importantly staff.”

The increased hospital capacity is putting a burden on the number of beds, as well as staff and healthcare providers, Runge said. A large surge of cases also carries a risk of challenging the amount of personal protective equipment required to keep healthcare workers safe, health officials said.

The number of confirmed cases in Michigan reached more than 277,800 this week, including 8,190 deaths.

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UW Medicine to reschedule some procedures; hospitals agree to share surge of COVID-19 patients

Responding to a surge in COVID-19 caseloads, UW Medicine has decided to postpone surgeries that are not urgent but would require hospitalization afterward, according to an internal email and confirmed by a spokesperson. 

UW Medicine’s action comes as Washington state’s hospitals earlier this week reached an agreement on how to handle the ongoing rise of COVID-19 patients statewide — committing to one another that “no hospital will go into crisis standards alone.” 

Crisis standards are when hospitals are so overwhelmed they cannot provide the typical standard of care, and they are left to triage resources and decide who will receive treatment and who will be left to die. 

The hospitals’ commitment — which expand on agreements reached before the first surge of COVID-19 in spring — says all of the state’s acute care hospitals will make “concrete plans” to scale back on elective procedures as needed, reserve intensive care units for COVID-19 or emergency cases, and readily accept patient transfers from other parts of the state.

It aims to ensure hospitals will work closely with one another and communicate to prevent individual facilities from becoming overwhelmed when others have capacity.  

“It’s essentially to try to manage — all across the system — the capacity,” said Cassie Sauer, of the Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA), which convened a videoconference Monday for the state’s hospital leaders. “In the places that have gone to crisis standards, those doctors and nurses, I’m not sure their soul will ever be the same.” 

Sauer said hospitals hope to create more slack in the system by collaborating closely together and establishing clear communication. Hospitals must document if they deny the transfer of a patient and inform their chief executive officer if a transfer is denied. 

Statewide, as of 4 p.m. Friday, 78% of acute care beds were occupied, according to WSHA. Nearly 84% of intensive care unit (ICU) beds and almost 75% of the ICU beds in airborne infection isolation rooms were in use — numbers higher than two weeks ago.

Sauer said many Washington hospitals, including UW Medicine and Swedish, are beginning to more aggressively scale back on elective procedures.  

“All non-urgent patients who need to occupy a bed [post-operation] for any length of time will be rescheduled,” wrote UW Medical Center CEO Cindy Hecker and Harborview Medical Center CEO Paul Hayes in a message to colleagues Nov. 19. The rescheduling will begin Nov. 23 and continue through Feb. 1, according to the message.  

Procedures for outpatients and in urgent or emergent cases will continue, Hecker and Hayes wrote. 

UW Medicine spokesperson Susan Gregg said the hospital system is “actively contacting” patients whose surgeries will be postponed. 

“Each individual case is being reviewed based on medical urgency and whether the patient would need to be hospitalized after the surgery,” Gregg said in a statement Friday.  

UW Medicine was caring for 77 COVID-19 patients across its campuses as of Thursday. On Oct. 1, the hospital system was caring for 20.  

Dr. Elizabeth Wako, chief medical officer at

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Why this Covid-19 surge is worse than the others

The West Texas city of El Paso, which is seeing facilities hard-pressed to handle the fast-rising number of coronavirus cases, is preparing to open its civic center for additional beds and add a fourth mobile morgue.



a person in a blue blanket: HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 31: A medical staff member grabs a hand of a patient to reposition the bed in the COVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) at the United Memorial Medical Center (UMMC) on October 31, 2020 in Houston, Texas. According to reports, Texas has reached over 916,000 cases, including over 18,000 deaths. (Photo by Go Nakamura/Getty Images)


© Go Nakamura/Getty Images
HOUSTON, TX – OCTOBER 31: A medical staff member grabs a hand of a patient to reposition the bed in the COVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) at the United Memorial Medical Center (UMMC) on October 31, 2020 in Houston, Texas. According to reports, Texas has reached over 916,000 cases, including over 18,000 deaths. (Photo by Go Nakamura/Getty Images)

University Medical Center of El Paso’s spokesman Ryan Mielke told CNN their hospital has 222 patients with Covid-19.

“We set a record yesterday and beat it today,” Mielke said. “It is just a new peak every day.”

About 978 patients with the virus are hospitalized in El Paso — a city of 680,000 residents — and 273 of those are in intensive care, according to the city’s coronavirus dashboard.

The city is about to use its civic center for Covid-19 patients and will have 50 beds, Mielke said.

The hospital has already expanded its Covid-19 capacity by partnering with El Paso Children’s Hospital, which has dedicated a floor to non-Covid-19 overflow patients, and it has a mobile isolation tent outside the hospital accepting patients.

A fourth mobile morgue is on its way to the hard-hit city, which has reported 605 deaths.

Asked about the surging cases and the link to the need for a fourth mobile morgue, Mielke said, “Simple math will tell you a certain percentage of those will have negative outcomes.”

‘We are breaking records all over the place’

No one wants another shutdown. But Americans who don’t wear masks and ignore social distancing are fueling that possibility, doctors say.

“We are breaking records all over the place here. The rate of acceleration of this virus is just increasing,” emergency medicine physician Dr. Leana Wen said.

“We’re already seeing our hospitals at breaking point in some parts of the country. And that means it doesn’t just affect patients with coronavirus. It also means that elective surgeries are being put off for things like hip replacements, for cancer surgery or heart surgery in some cases,” she said.

“When we get to breaking point here, we might have no other choice but to implement these measures that no one wants, like shutdowns. And that’s why we all have to take action right now with targeted measures, like wearing masks, like restricting indoor gatherings — things we can do now to prevent that really horrible outcome because cases are raging out of control across the US.”

Nationwide, the pandemic has gone from bad to worse.

The US just set a record for the highest seven-day average of daily new cases: 81,336 as of Sunday. That’s the first time the number has ever topped 80,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

And once again, increases in new cases are far exceeding new

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Gov. Mike DeWine pleads for Ohioans to rally to fight ‘common enemy’ as COVID cases surge

ABC News Corona Virus Government. Response

Ohio records a record number of new coronavirus cases on Friday.

Facing an alarming increase in new COVID-19 cases in his state, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine pleaded in an open letter for residents to come together, regardless of political affiliation, to fight a “common enemy” that has claimed nearly 230,000 lives in America.

DeWine released a video Sunday reading a letter he penned to Ohioans stressing the urgency of joining forces to keep the virus at bay until there is a vaccine.

The Republican governor began the video by appearing in a face mask and conceded that his request comes as Americans are “more divided than any of us can ever remember.”

“Today and for some time to come we also share a common enemy, one that cares not whether we vote for Donald Trump or Joe Biden, an enemy that is relentless and now clearly on the march,” DeWine said.

He implored Ohioans to immediately pull together and focus on fighting the virus, saying “the stakes could not be higher” and that “time is not on our side.”

PHOTO: Republican Gubernatorial-elect Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine gives his victory speech after winning the Ohio gubernatorial race at the Ohio Republican Party's election night party on Nov. 6, 2018 in Columbus, Ohio.

DeWine’s call to arms came after Ohio posted a record high 3,845 newly reported cases of coronavirus on Friday, according to the Ohio Department of Health. In the past month, the state has more-than-doubled its number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients and seen its positivity rate for cases nearly tripled from 2.7% in mid-September to nearly 7% now.

Even as DeWine released his video, Ohio reported another 3,303 new cases on Sunday with two additional deaths and 88 more hospitalizations. DeWine said the contagion has killed nearly 5,300 Ohioans.

“Now it’s been said one can find common ground only by moving to higher ground. Now is the time to move to that higher ground,” DeWine said. “We must come together, come together as Ohioans have always done. We must put the past behind us to move forward.”

DeWine also called on Congress to quickly pass a new bipartisan COVID-19 relief package that has been stalled due to a disagreement between Republicans and Democrats over the amount of money needed to prop up the sluggish U.S. economy and fund efforts to slow the virus, which has been raging across the country.

October marked the second-highest month on record for daily cases in the United States with more than 1.8 million new cases, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The nation reported 99,321 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, a record-high for single-day new cases, according to the Johns Hopkins data.

Ohio’s seven-day average of new cases is 2,984.

The data from October shows that 30 states and Puerto Rico reported record-high COVID-19 cases, 22

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Coronavirus surge sees US hospitals scramble for nurses

As the coronavirus pandemic surges across the nation and infections and hospitalizations rise, medical administrators are scrambling to find enough nursing help — especially in rural areas and at small hospitals.

Nurses are being trained to provide care in fields where they have limited experience. Hospitals are scaling back services to ensure enough staff to handle critically ill patients. And health systems are turning to short-term travel nurses to help fill the gaps.

Adding to the strain, experienced nurses are “burned out with this whole (pandemic)” and some are quitting, said Kevin Fitzpatrick, an emergency room nurse at Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Michigan, where several left just in the past month to work in hospice or home care or at outpatient clinics.

CORONAVIRUS CLAIMS LIFE OF MISSOURI BOY, 13, FAMILY CLAIMS

“And replacing them is not easy,” Fitzpatrick said.

As a result, he said, the ER is operating at about five nurses short of its optimal level at any given time, and each one typically cares for four patients as COVID-19 hospitalizations surge anew. Hospital officials did not respond to requests for comment.

But the departures are not surprising, according to experts, considering not only the mental toll but the fact that many nurses trained in acute care are over 50 and at increased risk of complications if they contract COVID-19, while younger nurses often have children or other family to worry about.

“Who can actually work and who feels safe working are limited by family obligations to protect their own health,” said Karen Donelan, professor of U.S. health policy at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management. “All of those things have been factors.”

CORONAVIRUS FACE MASKS AT POLLS ENCOURAGED, BUT NOT REQUIRED IN SOME STATES 

Donelan said there is little data so far on how the pandemic, which has killed more than 231,000 people in the country, is affecting nursing overall. But some hospitals had a shortage even before the virus took hold, despite a national rise in the number of nurses over the past decade.

With total confirmed coronavirus cases surpassing 9 million in the U.S. and new daily infections rising in 47 states, the need is only increasing.

Wausau, Wisconsin-based Aspirus Health Care is offering $15,000 signing bonuses for nurses with at least a year of experience and hiring contract nurses through private staffing companies to handle a surge in hospitalizations that prompted the system to almost quadruple the number of beds dedicated to COVID-19 patients.

Aspirus, which operates five hospitals in Wisconsin and four in small communities in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, also is moving nurses around between departments and facilities as hot spots emerge, said Ruth Risley-Gray, senior vice president and chief nursing officer at Aspirus.

ARE POLL WORKERS AT INCREASED RISK FOR CORONAVIRUS? 

Outside help still is needed, in part because some nurses have gotten sick from or were exposed to the cornavirus during the current wave, which “came with a vengeance” starting in August, Risley-Gray said. At

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Hospitals competing for nurses as US coronavirus cases surge

FENTON, Michigan (AP) — As the coronavirus pandemic surges across the nation and infections and hospitalizations rise, medical administrators are scrambling to find enough nursing help — especially in rural areas and at small hospitals.

Nurses are being trained to provide care in fields where they have limited experience. Hospitals are scaling back services to ensure enough staff to handle critically ill patients. And health systems are turning to short-term travel nurses to help fill the gaps.

Adding to the strain, experienced nurses are “burned out with this whole (pandemic)” and some are quitting, said Kevin Fitzpatrick, an emergency room nurse at Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Michigan, where several left just in the past month to work in hospice or home care or at outpatient clinics.

“And replacing them is not easy,” Fitzpatrick said.


As a result, he said, the ER is operating at about five nurses short of its optimal level at any given time, and each one typically cares for four patients as COVID-19 hospitalizations surge anew. Hospital officials did not respond to requests for comment.

But the departures are not surprising, according to experts, considering not only the mental toll but the fact that many nurses trained in acute care are over 50 and at increased risk of complications if they contract COVID-19, while younger nurses often have children or other family to worry about.

“Who can actually work and who feels safe working are limited by family obligations to protect their own health,” said Karen Donelan, professor of U.S. health policy at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management. “All of those things have been factors.”

Donelan said there is little data so far on how the pandemic, which has killed more than 231,000 people in the country, is affecting nursing overall. But some hospitals had a shortage even before the virus took hold, despite a national rise in the number of nurses over the past decade.

With total confirmed coronavirus cases surpassing 9 million in the U.S. and new daily infections rising in 47 states, the need is only increasing.

Wausau, Wisconsin-based Aspirus Health Care is offering $15,000 signing bonuses for nurses with at least a year of experience and hiring contract nurses through private staffing companies to handle a surge in hospitalizations that prompted the system to almost quadruple the number of beds dedicated to COVID-19 patients.

Aspirus, which operates five hospitals in Wisconsin and four in small communities in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, also is moving nurses around between departments and facilities as hot spots emerge, said Ruth Risley-Gray, senior vice president and chief nursing officer at Aspirus.

Outside help still is needed, in part because some nurses have gotten sick from or were exposed to the cornavirus during the current wave, which “came with a vengeance” starting in August, Risley-Gray said. At one point in mid-October, 215 staffers were in isolation after showing symptoms or being exposed to someone who tested positive, and some are just starting to return to

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Fauci warns of COVID-19 surge, opposes Trump’s response

‘It’s not a good situation,’ said Fauci

President Donald Trump’s repeated stance that the United States is “rounding the turn” on the coronavirus global pandemic has increased concerns among the government’s top health experts.

Many have warned that the country is heading towards a long and potentially deadly winter with “an unprepared government unwilling to make tough choices,” according to The Washington Post.

Anthony S. Fauci, the country’s leading infectious-disease expert, warned in a wide-ranging interview late Friday of what’s to come for the country in the winter months during the pandemic.

“We’re in for a whole lot of hurt. It’s not a good situation,” Fauci said. “All the stars are aligned in the wrong place as you go into the fall and winter season, with people congregating at home indoors. You could not possibly be positioned more poorly.”

Read More: Fauci advocates mask mandate amid COVID-19 surge across US

Fauci’s stern warnings come in response to the number of maskless Trump rallies across the country, and cities experiencing record surges in coronavirus infections and hospitalizations. 13 battleground states have reported rising coronavirus cases including Michigan, Texas, Florida, and Wisconsin.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies at a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on September 23, 2020 in Washington, DC. The committee is examining the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Alex Edelman-Pool/Getty Images)
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies at a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on September 23, 2020 in Washington, DC. The committee is examining the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Alex Edelman-Pool/Getty Images)

Fauci said the United States needed to make an “abrupt change” in its public health practices and behaviors in response to the virus. He said the country could surpass 100,000 new coronavirus cases a day and predicted fatalities in the next coming weeks.

His response comes as the country hit a new daily record Friday with more than 98,000 confirmed cases, according to The Washington Post.

During his campaign stop in Waterford Township, Mich., Trump downplayed the virus and mocked those who take it seriously, saying that some doctors record more COVID-19 deaths than others because they receive more money.

Read More: White House vetted celebrities to help president ‘defeat coronavirus despair’

“I mean our doctors are very smart people. So what they do is they say, ‘I’m sorry but everybody dies of COVID,’ ” Trump said.

By contrast, the Biden-Harris campaign has taken strides to follow protocols by wearing masks in public and having socially distanced events. Harris cancelled travel for several days when two people who travelled with her tested positive in October, as reported by NPR. When asked about the difference in approaches, Fauci commented that Biden’s campaign “is taking it

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Nebraska virus deaths could surge if current trends continue



A sign greets visitors outside the Curb Event Center at Belmont University as preparations take place for the second Presidential debate, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn., during the coronavirus outbreak. Governors of states including Tennessee, Oklahoma, Nebraska and North Dakota are all facing calls from doctors and public health officials to require masks. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)


© Provided by Associated Press
A sign greets visitors outside the Curb Event Center at Belmont University as preparations take place for the second Presidential debate, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn., during the coronavirus outbreak. Governors of states including Tennessee, Oklahoma, Nebraska and North Dakota are all facing calls from doctors and public health officials to require masks. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The recent surge in coronavirus cases in Nebraska has prompted one expert to predict that the number of deaths in the state linked to the virus could nearly quadruple by the start of 2021.

Dr. James Lawler, a director at the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Global Center for Health Security in Omaha, said Friday that the state could have more than 2,500 COVID-19-related deaths by January if current trends continue without more stringent public health measures or better compliance with the measures already in place. The state has so far reported 652 deaths linked to the virus.

“If the outbreak continues at this pace, and we don’t implement much more stringent public health interventions — or at least if we don’t get people to adopt those behaviors, which ultimately is the most important thing — I think we could easily see three times the total we’ve seen so far,” he said to the Omaha World-Herald.

Nebraska reported 1,087 new virus cases Saturday to give the state a total of 70,732 cases so far. The rate of new cases in the state ranked sixth-highest in the nation Saturday.

And the number of people hospitalized with the virus set another new record at 612 Saturday. That is more than 2.5 times the spring peak of 232 set on May 27.

The rate of new cases per 100,000 Nebraska residents over the past two weeks registered 694.56 on Saturday, according to an Associated Press analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Nebraska has risen over the past two weeks from 795.71 new cases per day on Oct. 17 to 1,019.29 new cases per day on Saturday.

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