Nebraska's most populous counties had rates that came in well below the statewide rate. But several rural counties had per-capita case counts two to three times the state rate, according to state figures.
Nebraska hospitalizations due to COVID-19 overall were up 6% last week, with an average 364 patients hospitalized with the virus. But new admissions were down by 9%.
The lawsuit alleges that Creighton "refused to consider or grant religious exemptions" in mandating the vaccine for all students.
Though more vaccinated people are winding up in the hospital due to the surge in cases caused by the delta variant, health officials say the vaccine is still keeping the vast majority of people from getting ill.
Nebraska's COVID surge is continuing, with cases nearly doubling over the past two weeks. The increase in cases over that time ranks fifth highest in the nation.
Officials say full approval of the Pfizer vaccine could lead to more vaccinations, either through employer mandates or a reduction in vaccine hesitancy.
"I'm concerned this is going to be the worst phase of the pandemic for much of the United States," said Dr. James Lawler of UNMC, "particularly states like ours that have low vaccination rates."
Expiration of an executive order over the weekend means health districts can no longer publicly report COVID-19 statistics for 76 of the state's 93 counties.
UNMC's Dr. James Lawler stressed that increasing vaccination is the most important thing. "We really would be done with the pandemic that way. The sad fact is that’s all within our grasp. We just need to reach out and take it.”
Gov. Pete Ricketts sharply criticized the CDC for its new recommendations that even vaccinated people should wear masks indoors.
U.S. COVID-19 cases are rising again after months of decline. Experts blame the fast-spreading delta variant and lagging vaccination rates.
Dr. James Lawler of UNMC said leaders need to do more to urge masking and other precautions. "Sadly, Americans have been willing to sacrifice old people so that kids can play sports," he said.
A flyer that circulated in Omaha had falsely suggested that the two vaccines approved for COVID-19 contained tissue from aborted fetuses.
On a chilly night last February, 57 Americans who had traveled from Wuhan, China, landed in Omaha to quarantine at Camp Ashland, giving Nebraska experts an early introduction to the new coronavirus.
Even as a top state official praised the vaccination preparations as “phenomenal” and “outstanding," fundamental questions about the campaign remain under discussion.