Virus cases surge in Nebraska but fewer tests being done

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Cases of COVID-19 are on the rise in Nebraska as the highly contagious delta variant continues to spread, but those reported totals may be undercounting the actual number of cases because the number of tests being performed each day is down significantly compared to last fall.

“We’re definitely not testing enough ... that part is clear,” said Dr. James Lawler, co-executive director of University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Global Center for Health Security.

Data published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows that Nebraska reported more than 16,000 test results one day last November during the fall surge of cases, according to the Omaha World-Herald. This summer, the state hasn't reported more than 2,000 tests a day once since July 27, and the highest number of tests reported this month was when 1,400 results came in on Aug. 10.

But coronavirus tests are available in many more locations today than they were last fall. many pharmacies, hospitals, health centers, doctor’s offices and local health departments all offer COVID-19 testing.

The fact that testing is available in so many locations is the main reason why the state has no plans to resurrect the statewide TestNebraska operation that ended last month after offering free tests throughout Nebraska., said state Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Khalilah LeGrand.

The state spent roughly $45 million on the TestNebraska program, which ended July 18 after providing about 800,000 COVID-19 tests.

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