LINCOLN, Neb. -- Over the last seven days, cases of COVID-19 in Nebraska have more than tripled. According to combined stats from the Department of Health and Human Services and local health departments, the number of cases jumped from 91 to 305.
Of those 305 cases, six people have now died. That includes one each in Douglas, Hall, Madison, Gage, Lincoln, and Buffalo counties. At this time last week, there were two deaths.
Cases across the U.S. have closely mirrored Nebraska's rising rate of COVID-19 cases over the last seven days. On March 27, there were roughly 101,000 cases and about 1,600 deaths. As of 11:00 p.m. on April 3, there are about 278,000 cases in the U.S. and about 7,100 deaths.
Nebraska currently ranks 43rd in COVID-19 cases, falling in front of Alaska, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Montana.
"We're still very early in this event," said Dr. James Lawler with the University of Nebraska Medical Center on Friday. "We're in the second inning so-to-speak. We're going to see more cases and unfortunately more deaths."
Here's a list at how a few of Nebraska's counties compare from Friday, March 27 to Friday, April 3:
Douglas: 47 // 128
Lancaster: 4 // 14
Hall: 3 // 35
Sarpy: 11 // 28
Lincoln: 3 // 14
Buffalo: 4 // 12
Washington: 5 // 19
The number of counties impacted increased from 16 to 29.
According to the state, Nebraska cases aren't expected to peak until late April.
On Friday, Gov. Pete Ricketts extended his Directed Health Measures to include all 93 Nebraska counties through May 11. While not issuing a stay-at-home mandate, the DHMs do require (by law) gatherings be limited to 10 people or less, dine-in services at restaurants and bars be closed, elective surgeries be canceled, and school buildings shut off to students.
"If you want to see football this fall, stay at home," Gov. Ricketts said. "If you're a senior in high school and you want a graduation party in August, stay home."
Gov. Ricketts has been repeatedly questioned about not issuing stay-at-home orders, like 40 other states have done, but said Nebraska's plan has been constructed in partnership with the experts at UNMC.
"The name of the game is about preserving our health care system," Dr. Lawler said. "We need to provide effective health care to all Nebraskans. What we're seeing in New York is an overwhelmed system."
10/11 NOW asked Gov. Ricketts on Friday about not tracking recoveries within the state. He said, their focus is on not overwhelming the health care system, and getting good data on ways to prevent that from happening. Once there's a better understanding of the epidemiology of COVID-19, state health experts hope to take a closer look at exact recovery numbers, they said.