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 a total of 39 lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases for the week ending August 14, a twenty-two percent increase over the previous week and more cases than reported for the entire month of July. For the current week, SHDHD already received reports of twenty-eight cases by end of day Tuesday, for a cumulative total of 5,062. The department also reported 3 more confirmed Delta variants in previously reported cases.
“The Delta variant is highly contagious, spreading more easily from person to person. For the original version of the virus, one person with COVID-19 infected 2-3 others, on average. With the Delta variant, data is showing that one person is infecting 6-7 other people, so the variant is two-to three-times as contagious as the original version of the virus,” Bever said.
Bever reported the overall weekly positivity (percent positive tests) increased from 7.7% (moderate transmission) to 12.1% (high transmission). For the general population (does not include long-term care residents/staff), the percent positive tests increased from 13.4% to 17.2% (high transmission) for the week ending August 14, while percent positive tests in long-term care facilities remained at zero for the 12th week in a row.
The number of new cases per 100,000 people in the past seven days (for the seven days ending on August 16) is currently at 126.1 for the four-county health district. Low transmission is fewer than ten cases in the past seven days and high transmission is greater than 100 cases in a seven-day period. (Note: SHDHD is now reporting the number of new cases per 100,000 in the past seven days instead of the 7-day average new daily cases per 100,000).
Hospital capacity is tracked using the percent of inpatients that are COVID positive and the fraction of staffed intensive care unit beds that are available. As of August 17th, 20% of hospital inpatients were COVID-19 positive and 45.5% of the staffed ICU beds were available.
“The vaccines are our best defense against COVID-19, protecting us from severe illness and hospitalization due to infection by the SARS-CoV-2 virus,” Bever said. “Please get your COVID-19 shots so you are fully vaccinated. When used together with other layers of prevention in our schools, worksites and community settings, we are all better protected,” she said.
SHDHD is holding weekly walk-in COVID vaccination clinics with Pfizer vaccine on Wednesdays through the month of September, 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.
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.