HASTINGS – South Heartland District Health Department (SHDHD) officials reported nine new lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in the past three days (Tuesday – Thursday) for a new cumulative total of 4,595. Confirmed cases for the three-day period include: eight in Adams and one in Clay. By county, the cumulative totals are: 2,993 in Adams, 750 in Clay, 505 in Nuckolls, and 347 in Webster.
SHDHD executive director Michele Bever said that the number of new cases had decreased. “In the past seven days, South Heartland received 19 positive lab results, for a daily average of 2.7 positive cases per day. The previous seven days before that we averaged 3.7 cases per day,” she said.
Bever also stated that the 14-day rolling average of new cases had remained at or below 8 per 100,000 for six days in a row. “However, the positivity indicator also needs to decrease to, or below, the target of 5% positive tests and sustain at that level. Our community positivity was 11.6% for the week ending March 27,” she said.
“We can control the spread of the virus by our actions,” Bever said. “The SARS-CoV-2 virus spreads easily person to person when people are close together. What works to reduce the spread is to avoid crowded places, avoid close contact and avoid confined spaces. Physical distancing and wearing a mask correctly over nose and mouth can help reduce the ability of the virus to spread. Plus, we encourage everyone who is eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you are able.”
Bever stated that about 30% percent of South Heartland residents had received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, which provides protection against severe illness, hospitalization and death caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
To be fully vaccinated means that it has been at least 2 weeks after receiving the second dose of the 2-dose series (Moderna or Pfizer COVID vaccines), OR at least 2 weeks after receiving the single-dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine).
Bever said 17% of the district’s population had either received both doses of a 2-dose series or had received the single dose vaccine, but not all of these individuals could be considered fully vaccinated if they had received their last vaccine dose within the past 2 weeks. “It takes about two weeks after completing the 1-dose or 2-dose series for most immune systems to be fully ready to fight the virus,” she said.
“By county, 16% of Adams County residents, 18% of Clay County residents, 21% of Nuckolls County residents, and 21% of Webster County residents have received both doses of a 2-dose series or received the single dose vaccine and are either fully vaccinated or will be considered fully vaccinated within the next two weeks,” Bever said.
SHDHD is encouraging everyone in eligible age groups to register for a COVID vaccine by clicking on the red ribbon at the top of the SHDHD website home page at southheartlandhealth.org. Next, click on the picture of the vaccine to complete the vaccine registration process in the Nebraska vaccine registration and administration (VRAS) system.
Bever said SHDHD is transitioning to the scheduling function of VRAS, which will allow local vaccine providers to replace the manual scheduling processes they are using now. After the transition, residents will need to be in the system to have an opportunity to schedule an appointment. Those needing assistance with registration should contact the NE State Vaccine hotline at 833-998-2275. Individuals 60 and over can contact Midland Area Agency on Aging for assistance with vaccine registration at 402-463-4565 Extension – 499.