South Heartland District Health Department Reports 334 COVID Cases in September

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.

The health department received 334 COVID-19 positive lab reports for the month of September to date (September 1-14), including 167 (50%) for the week ending September 11th and 105 (31%) by end of day Tuesday for the current week.

Dr. Bever reported that approximately 25% of September’s confirmed cases were under age twenty, 35% were 20 to 39 years old, 24% were 40 to 59 years old, and 15% were ages 60 and above.

The district, overall, had 214 new cases (equating to 473.4 new cases per 100,000 people) in the past seven days ending Tuesday night. More than 100 new cases per 100K population in seven days is considered high community transmission; low community transmission is under 10 new cases per 100K in seven days.

SHDHD’s overall weekly positivity (percent positive tests) was 17.4% (high transmission) for the week ending September 4.  By county, positivity was 17.2% in Adams, 18.3% in Clay, 12.0% in Nuckolls and 25% in Webster.  More than 10% positivity is considered high community transmission; below 5% positivity is considered low community transmission.

Bever said the number of COVID tests conducted last week was 37% higher the prior week and 123% higher than two weeks prior. The health department maintains a list of locations offering COVID-testing in the South Heartland District. The list may be viewed at: southheartlandhealth.org.

Hospital capacity metrics as of September 14 showed 12.2% of hospital inpatients were COVID-19 positive and 18.2% of the staffed ICU beds were available within South Heartland district hospitals.

Vaccination coverage continues to improve a little each week. Bever said 42.9% of South Heartland residents are fully vaccinated and 46.3% have received at least one dose.  “Vaccination coverage varies by age, with eighty-four percent of residents ages 65 and older fully vaccinated compared with fifteen percent of residents ages 12-15, twenty-one percent of residents ages 16-19, and thirty-four percent of residents age 20-34,” Bever said. “The COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective at reducing severe COVID-19 illness and hospitalizations due to COVID,” she said.

Bever said people who are not fully vaccinated and people who are age 65 or older, or who have underlying health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, or immunosuppression, are most at risk for severe illness from COVID-19 infection. She said layers of prevention are important to use to protect those most at risk.

“We know these prevention layers work to limit the spread of the virus and more importantly to limit the severity of COVID-19 illness,” Bever said. “Vaccination is the best layer of prevention and the vaccine is widely available at no cost within our 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.

SHDHD is holding weekly walk-in COVID vaccination clinics with Pfizer vaccine on Wednesdays through the months of September and October, 5-7 pm, at the west end of the Allen’s building, 1115 W. 2nd Street in Hastings. Families are encouraged 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 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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