South Heartland District Health Department Reports Decrease in Cases and Positivity

HASTINGS – South Heartland District Health Department (SHDHD) officials reported just 13 lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in the past seven days (May 10 – May 17), averaging under 2 cases per day and bringing the cumulative number of cases in the four-county health district to 4,898. The new confirmed cases for the seven-day period were 10 in Adams County, 1 in Clay County, and 2 in Webster County. By county, the new cumulative totals are: 3,160 cases in Adams, 773 cases in Clay, 548 cases in Nuckolls, and 417 cases in Webster.

SHDHD executive director Michele Bever also reported on the health district’s positivity (number of positive tests divided by the number of tests performed). For the week ending May 15, Bever said COVID-19 testing remained low with only 392 total tests and 64% of these tests associated with long-term care facility testing. “The positivity for community testing was 8.4%, down from 14.8% the previous week and closer to our goal of 5% community positivity,” Bever said. By county, the community positivity was 7.4% in Adams, 8.3% in Clay, 0.0% in Nuckolls, and 28.6% in Webster.

Bever said some of the recent cases reported to South Heartland were caused by the variant B.1.1.7. “To date, we have identified 13 cases of COVID-19 caused by the B.1.1.7 variant, including 8 in Adams County, 1 in Clay County, 1 in Nuckolls County and 2 in Webster County,” she said. “Only a small proportion of cases are sequenced, so this tells us that the variant is in our district, but not how widespread it is. In some regions of the country, this variant has become more common than the original strain of the SARS-CoV2 virus. We continue to recommend residents practice caution and prevention to protect themselves, their loved ones and others, especially if they are not yet fully vaccinated.”

Bever said the department is excited to begin offering vaccine for adolescents ages 12 and up this week. SHDHD has Pfizer vaccine clinics scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (May 18-20, 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm) for anyone ages 12 to 90+. No appointments are needed, but Bever recommended individuals pre-register at vaccinate.ne.gov. Masks are required and a parent or guardian must accompany children under age 19.

To date, 36% of all South Heartland residents are fully vaccinated. Bever reported 79% percent of residents ages 65+ and 55% of residents ages 55 to 64 years are fully vaccinated. “The older age groups are out ahead in being fully vaccinated and able to safely do more activities, but we hope the increased vaccine availability will make it easier for residents under age 55 to get their vaccine now.”

SHDHD’s vaccine webpage (https://southheartlandhealth.org/public-health-data/covid-19-vaccine-information.html) includes a list of locations offering vaccine in the South Heartland District and which vaccine(s) – Pfizer, Moderna and/or J&J – are offered at each site. “This list will be updated frequently to include new times, dates and how to make an appointment at each site. In addition, there are several health care providers in the district who are offering COVID-19 vaccine to their patients,” she said. “We encourage residents to contact the health department at 402-462-6211 or 877-238-7595 with any questions.”

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