South Heartland District Health Department Reports COVID Risk Dial Increase

HASTINGS – South Heartland District Health Department (SHDHD) executive director Michele Bever reported another COVID-related death in the health district, bringing the total deaths to 91. The death was an Adams County man in his 90s. SHDHD does not report deaths attributed to COVID-19 until confirmed by death certificate.

“We extend our sympathies to the family and friends who lost their loved one to COVID-19,” Bever said.

Bever also reported the COVID-19 risk dial score for the four-county health district increased to 1.7 in moderate risk, up from 1.6 the previous week. South Heartland health district encompasses Adams, Clay, Nuckolls and Webster counties. “We saw a 95% net increase in new cases compared to the previous week, as well as an increase in positivity,” Bever said.

“Community positivity increased to 14.8% from 14.1% the week before, considerably higher than our 5% goal for low community spread,” she said. “The percent positive tests from long term care facilities increased from 0% to 3.5% this past week. In addition, after 13 days with no patients needing care in our local hospitals due to symptoms of COVID-19, two patients are now hospitalized due to COVID-19,” she said.

Bever noted that, to date, sequencing analysis had identified four COVID-19-positive South Heartland residents who were infected with the B.1.1.7 variant, including one in Nuckolls County, one in Clay County and two in Adams County. She said the B.1.1.7 variant has higher transmissibility, meaning it spreads more easily from person to person, and it can cause more severe illness. Bever said these are the reasons why prevention continues to be important.

“The good news is that COVID-19 vaccines are effective in protecting against severe illness, hospitalization and death caused by COVID-19 and the variants,” Bever said. “At least 76.5% of our residents ages 65+ are fully vaccinated.”

“Our goal is at least 70%, and preferably more than 75%, of our residents to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Currently, 41% of our eligible residents, meaning those age 16 and older, have completed the 1 or 2 dose series, depending on the vaccine. We are continuing to make progress, one shot at a time,” she said.

“Every day more South Heartland residents are getting their COVID-19 shots,” she said. “Once you are fully vaccinated, which requires two weeks after the last dose of the series, you are able to do more activities safely, including traveling and gathering. And, you are helping your community get closer to normal.”

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