OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska is seeing a sharp jump in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases, according to the state's online tracking portal.
State officials reported 621 new cases on Thursday evening, up from 520 the previous day. The number of daily cases is up from where it was in September and this summer. So far, 493 peopled have died from the virus.
Nebraska has confirmed 46,185 cases since the pandemic began, out of 464,576 people who have been tested. The hardest-hit counties continue to be Douglas, Lancaster and Sarpy, the state's most populated areas.
The state portal shows that 29% of Nebraska's hospital beds are available for virus patients, as are 26% of the intensive care units and 78% of the ventilators.
The increase comes weeks after Nebraska ended nearly all of its social-distancing restrictions in favor of voluntary guidelines. Gov. Pete Ricketts has said the decision was based on the availability of hospital beds and ventilators, in keeping with his goal of not overwhelming medical facilities.
The change doesn't include Lincoln and surrounding Lancaster County.
Restrictions are still in effect for large indoor gatherings, such as concerts, meeting halls and theaters.
For most people, COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are among those particularly susceptible to more severe illnesses.