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Nebraska reports record number of virus cases to top 100,000

November 17, 2020 GMT

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The number of coronavirus cases in Nebraska topped 100,000 as the state reported a record 3,440 cases Monday.

Nebraska has had 101,601 cases of the virus since the pandemic began. There were also eighteen new deaths reported Monday to give the state 797 deaths.

The number of people hospitalized with the virus in the state set a new record at 938. Gov. Pete Ricketts has said if that number continues to rise and approaches 1,200 — when 25% of the hospitalized patients in the state have coronavirus — he will impose additional restrictions to limit the spread of the virus.

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The number of people hospitalized with the virus has more than quadrupled since the start of October when 227 people were being treated for COVID-19, and hospitals are struggling to keep up with the caseload.

On Monday, Ricketts repeated his plea for residents to voluntarily avoid crowds and wear masks when around other people to stop the spread of the virus. But he once again said he won’t impose a statewide mask mandate, even as a number of large and mid-sized cities have enacted their own. The city of Beatrice is moving forward with a new mandate, joining Omaha, Lincoln, Grand Island and Kearney.

“I don’t think mask mandates are appropriate,” Ricketts said in response to a question at a news conference. “I think they breed resistance.”

He added that other states, such as Wisconsin, have enacted statewide mask mandates but have still seen a surge in cases. Many local public health officials have called for a mandate, saying it would have helped slow the increase in new cases and hospitalizations in Nebraska.

Nebraska has the sixth-highest rate of new virus cases in the nation. And over the past week, one out of every 120 people in the state was diagnosed with COVID-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Nebraska has nearly doubled over the past two weeks from 1,124.14 new cases per day on Nov. 2 to 2,027.43 new cases per day on Nov. 16.