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 is receiving increasing numbers of positive lab reports each week compared to the weeks before.
Bever reported COVID-19 positive case reports more than doubled last week compared to the previous week, with 136 positive labs last week (the week ending September 4) compared to 62 the week before (the week ending August 28). “We saw 120 percent increase in cases last week over the previous week,” Bever said. “Of these, thirty-three percent were under age twenty, 34% were 20 to 39 years old, 21% were 40 to 59 years old, and 12% were ages 60 and above.
For the current week, Bever said the department had already received fifty-eight COVID-19 positive case reports as of end of day Tuesday. The district, overall, had 120 new cases (equating to 265 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% (high transmission) for the week ending September 4. By county, positivity was 19.9% in Adams, 12.1% in Clay, 13.1% in Nuckolls and 11.7% in Webster. More than 10% positivity is considered high community transmission; below 5% positivity is considered low community transmission.
Hospital capacity metrics as of September 7 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.
Bever said all four South Heartland counties are experiencing high community transmission based on county positivity and new cases per 100,000 people in the past seven days. These weekly and daily metrics can be followed on South Heartland’s COVID-19 Dashboard at (https://public.tableau.com/app/profile/lucy.nielsen/viz/SHDCOVID-19Dashboard/Dashboard).
Vaccination coverage continues to increase a little each week. Bever said 42.2% of South Heartland residents are fully vaccinated and 45.6% have received at least one dose. “The continued improvement in vaccine coverage is good news because the vaccine is highly effective at reducing severe COVID-19 illness and hospitalizations due to COVID,” she 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,” Bever said.
“Please be considerate of the health of your friends, neighbors, work colleagues, and other community members by using layers of prevention. Stay home when you are ill or have had close contact with someone with COVID-19, practice good hygiene like washing hands and not touching your face, wear masks in public, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, avoid crowded spaces and confined indoor places, and get fully vaccinated.” she said.
“We know these 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. It 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 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.