South Heartland District Health Department Gives Update on Vaccinations and Risk Dial

HASTINGS – South Heartland District Health Department (SHDHD) executive director Michele Bever reported 800 doses of the Moderna vaccine arrived in the health district on Tuesday. “Nearly one-third of these doses were already in arms by end of day Wednesday,” she said.

The South Heartland health district is currently focusing on vaccinating individuals age 65+, with a reverse-age approach. “Ninety percent of this week’s vaccine allotment will be directed toward our elderly who are at highest risk,” Bever said. “We will again use a small percent of this week’s doses for essential workers such as law enforcement, fire department personnel, and utilities, as well as some health workers from Phase 1A.”

Bever also reported South Heartland’s COVID-19 risk dropped within the risk dial ‘orange zone’ to a score of 2.2, from 2.4 the previous week. “The main driver for this drop is the 14-day average of new daily cases, which decreased to 32 per 100,000 for the week ending January 30,” Bever said.

As of Wednesday evening, this average had dropped to 30 new daily cases per 100,000, according to South Heartland’s COVID-19 dashboard. “Our high was a 14-day average of 118 cases per 100,000 on November 20 and our goal is eight or fewer new daily cases per 100,000,” Bever said. “We are headed in the right direction.”

In Addition, Bever said hospital capacity indicators were similar to Wednesday of last week. According to SHDHD’s hospital capacity dashboard on February 3, forty-five percent of ICU beds were available, nineteen percent of inpatients were COVID-positive, and there were seven COVID-19-positive inpatients with one needing a ventilator.

“All of these steps we are taking, all the tools we are using to block the spread of the coronavirus, are working to protect the health care system and to protect our most vulnerable,” Bever said. “We need to continue doing what’s working.  We need to avoid the three Cs: avoid crowded places, avoid close contact, avoid confined spaces. We need to continue to wear masks that cover our noses and mouths, we need to stay home when we are sick, we need to disinfect frequently-touched surfaces and objects, we need to wash our hands, and we need to get the COVID vaccine when it is our turn,” she said.

“We are asking for patience with the vaccine. Due to limited amounts of vaccine coming to us each week, it will take many months for everyone who wants the vaccine to get it. If you are in the current priority group of age 65+, it may still be many weeks before it is your turn,” she said. “Residents can register to get the vaccine on our website (www.southheartlandhealth.org) where we have a link to Nebraska’s vaccine registration system. You will be notified when it is your turn to schedule an appointment. Watch the local news media, the health department website and the SHDHD Facebook page for updated information about the status and timeline of the vaccine distribution process.”

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