On July 16, 2021 at Lincoln South Rotary Club we heard from Bob Rauner. Bob has been providing regular updates on coronavirus through podcasts, facebook and items in the newspaper.

Bob provided us with the information from his latest podcast - Coronavirus Update #81.

He commented on the three front-page stories from the Lincoln Journal Star July 15.
There was an article about our new athletic director. Bob used football as an example of what to expect at school this fall – we can’t have everything figured out right now. It is like asking Coach Frost before the game what play he will call as the first play of the 3rd quarter. You need more facts.
The fall of the towers in Florida is a tragedy but there are twice as many people who are dying every day due to coronavirus. We are tracking the engineering, the data behind it and how we are going to prevent it from happening again. These discussions are supported by data.
Then there was an article about the pandemic numbers. The Nebraska numbers stopped being published a while back. Without numbers we cannot make good decisions. Coronavirus is killing twice as many people as the collapsed tower tragedy and the death rate is going to go back up again. We need the facts - the data - to make decisions.
Much of Bob’s focus was on kids and what to expect when we return to school. We don't currently have good data on hospitalizations especially kids. 
Bob showed us the CDC Guidance document that clearly outlines recommendations (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/k-12-guidance.html).
  • Students benefit from in-person learning, and safely returning to in-person instruction in the fall 2021 is a priority.
  • Vaccination is currently the leading public health prevention strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic.  Promoting vaccination can help schools safely return to in-person learning as well as extracurricular activities and sports.
  • Masks should be worn indoors by all individuals (age 2 and older) who are not fully vaccinated. Consistent and correct mask use by people who are not fully vaccinated is especially important indoors and in crowded settings, when physical distancing cannot be maintained.
  • . . . and more . . .
Common Misperception: Kids are low risk, but not no risk
In Nebraska, numbers reported earlier – kids age 0-19 only 0.1% of kids were being hospitalized and only 0.002% were dying. It is low risk, but it is not no risk. Estimating the non-vaccinated kids that will be returning to Lincoln Public Schools this fall, Bob estimated 22 hospitalizations with 1 death. It is low risk, but not no risk.
A policy decision will have to be made about whether or not to require masks in school as stated in the CDC guidelines. But we need good data to come up with valid estimates.
Another issue is Long-COVID – the long term affects of COVID-19. Some of those are trouble breathing, fatigue, brain fog, lack of taste and smell and higher rates of diabetes. We are getting good data on adults but not on kids. So, if we let 30,000+ kids get infected this fall, what will be the long-term affect?
And, it is not just kids. About 35% of the community is connected to the school. Either they attend, work, or go home to a household of someone from that school. So if we do not protect the kids in the schools it could infect a large part of our community. It is really important that we provide for a safe return to school.
Bob predicts that we may see a requirement for masks to be worn in schools this Fall. He thought it was possible a few weeks back to allow return to school without masks but, due to our latest case increases, he now believes we should require masks.
Common Misperception: Natural immunity likely will not protect you against new variants, you need a vaccine
There is a big increase in cases in nearby states and COVID does not respect borders. Comparing the maps showing vaccine rates to cases you can see that the locations with higher case numbers have lower vaccine rates. In Lincoln we have higher than average vaccine rates in Nebraska, but still not good enough according to Bob.
Tracking has indicted that, in Lincoln, COVID has been spread by our young people and there are a lot of those individuals who are not vaccinated. This is the age group going to bars and large social events.
Bob believes we are headed for another surge by looking at charts of what has been happening throughout this pandemic and what has recently happened in other countries with variants.


Bob Rauner splits his time between 2 jobs, Chief Medical Officer of OneHealth Nebraska ACO and President of Partnership for a Heathy Lincoln, as well as serving on the board of directors for both Lincoln Public Schools and the Nebraska Association of School Boards. Bob received his undergraduate degree in philosophy at Creighton University, his medical degree at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, and his master of public health degree at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.  He started his medical career as a family physician serving rural and underserved communities for 15 years, and then transitioned into health leadership and policy roles after finishing his MPH in 2010. His wife Lisa is also a family physician and they have 3 daughters. He is also a 3rd generation Rotarian, has 2 daughters who were Rotary Youth Exchange students, and currently chairs the Rotary District 5650 Rotary Youth Exchange committee.