HASTINGS – The South Heartland District Health Department is seeing a continued upward trend in new coronavirus cases in the region and on Wednesday afternoon they held a press conference with local physicians.
Last week they saw a total of 39 positive cases, which is a twenty two percent increase over previous weeks. So far this week, they have received 28 positive tests. As of Tuesday, twenty percent of hospital inpatients are coronavirus positive and 45.5 percent of the staffed ICU beds are available.
Currently, the health department is concerned with the delta variant of the coronavirus that is more contagious and causes more severe symptoms. Michele Bever, Executive Director of the South Heartland District Health Department, and the other physicians said that the vaccine is the best defense against the coronavirus and it’s variants.
About forty percent of our district population is fully vaccinated, which means about sixty percent are at a higher risk of severe COVID illness or hospitalization, if they are infected with the delta variant. We are urging people to get their COVID-19 shots so that they are fully vaccinated. Vaccination, when used together with other layers of prevention, in our schools, in our worksites, our churches, in recreation and community settings, means we are all better protected.
A large majority of cases and hospitalizations are unvaccinated people and younger people are getting more severe symptoms due to the delta variant.
Adam Horn, Chief Medical Officer of Mary Lanning Healthcare, said during the press conference that hospitals are concerned statewide about hospital bed availability.
The COVID cases make up a portion of it. But it’s not just COVID, there’s other sick people out there. I was just in a call earlier this morning with a couple of hospital leaders from other areas of the state and they said the same thing. We’re just seeing increased heart attacks, increased sick people, there are people who put off care during the pandemic previously that are now coming in sicker and needing more advanced procedures. COVID is just one piece of it, if you look at just COVID in isolation then yes we can get lulled into a false sense of security. If you only have five percent of beds free and we have six percent of beds being used by COVID, well then we have a shortage there.
Other practices, like social distancing, masking, staying home when sick, hand washing and sanitizing, are also good tools to prevent spread of the coronavirus.
The health department also tracks case and vaccination data on their website.