South Heartland District Health Department Increases Risk Dial

HASTINGS – On Tuesday evening, South Heartland District Health Department (SHDHD) executive director Michele Bever provided a weekly update to keep residents informed about COVID-19 in Adams, Clay, Nuckolls and Webster counties.

Bever stated the department logged a total of nine lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases for the week ending July 17 and four new cases so far in the current week. The health district’s current cumulative total is 4,944 confirmed cases. Case counts by county are 3,196 in Adams County, 782 in Clay County, 547 in Nuckolls County and 419 in Webster County.

Bever reported a confirmed COVID death of a previously reported case, bringing the total COVID deaths in the four-county health district to 92 since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020. She also announced a second previously-reported case confirmed as B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant of SARS-CoV-2.

The weekly positivity (percent positive tests) increased from 1.5% to 5.9% overall. For the general population, the positivity increased to 8% for the week ending July 17, while testing in long term care facilities resulted in zero positive cases. The 14-day average of daily new cases per 100,000 increased to 2.1 after being at or below 0.9 since June 4, 2021. “Given the increase in cases, increase in positivity and the recent identification of cases caused by the Delta variant of concern, our overall local risk of COVID-19 has edged up into the moderate (yellow) zone,” Bever said.

“Our COVID-19 vaccination rates in South Heartland continue to lag behind the national averages,” Bever said. “To date, 38.7% of all South Heartland residents are fully vaccinated and 42% percent of all residents have received at least one dose of vaccine,” Bever said.  According to SHDHD’s vaccine dashboard, of those 12 and up who are eligible to receive the vaccine, 47% are fully vaccinated and 50% have received at least one dose.

According to the New York Times vaccine tracker (July 20), in the U.S. overall, 48.7% are fully vaccinated and 56.1% have received at least one dose. Of those 12 years and older who are eligible to receive the vaccine, 57% are fully vaccinated and 65.7% have received at least one dose.

“And, while an outstanding 81.8% of South Heartland residents age 65+ are fully vaccinated, only 8% of 12–15-year-olds are fully vaccinated (3% have received a first shot), 16% of 16–19-year-olds are fully vaccinated (3% have received a first shot), and 29% of 20-34-year-olds are fully vaccinated (3% have received a first shot),” Bever said.

“With the Delta variant causing surges in cases around the country and with younger individuals getting sick and needing hospitalization, we are encouraging everyone age 12 and older who hasn’t been vaccinated to make an effort to do so now. The COVID-19 vaccines protect against severe illness caused by the coronavirus variants,” Bever said.  “If you haven’t been vaccinated, don’t wait. Getting your first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine soon means you could be fully vaccinated in time for back-to-school and fall activities.”

SHDHD will hold a walk-in COVID vaccination clinic with Pfizer vaccine on Thursday, July 29, 5-7 pm at the west end of Allen’s on Second Street in Hastings. In preparation for school, Bever encourages families to bring their children age 12 and above (minor children must be accompanied by parent or guardian). Others are also welcome. Enter at Allen’s west door; masks are required. Participants may register in advance at vaccinate.ne.gov.

Bever said all three COVID-19 vaccine products – Pfizer BioNTech, J&J Janssen, and Moderna – are available in the health district. SHDHD’s vaccine webpage (southheartlandhealth.org) includes a list of locations offering vaccine in the South Heartland District and which vaccine products are offered at each site. The list is updated frequently to include new times, dates, whether walk-ins are accepted, and, if needed, how to make an appointment at each site. In addition, many health care providers in the district are offering COVID-19 vaccine to their patients.

Bever encourages residents to contact their personal doctor or the health department if they have questions about the vaccine.  Contact South Heartland District Health Department at 402-462-6211 or 877-238-7595.

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