HASTINGS – On Wednesday evening South Heartland District Health Department (SHDHD) executive director Michele Bever reported the COVID-19 risk dial score increased to 1.7 in moderate risk, up from 1.5 the previous week.
Bever said several factors contributed to the increased risk score, including average daily cases and positivity. “The number of cases increased slightly to an average of 3.4 positive tests per day compared to 3.3 per day the previous week. Overall positivity increased to 3.1%, up from 2.9% the previous week, and the general community positivity increased to 9.4%, up from 7.3% the previous week. Our goal is for community positivity to be sustained at or below 5%,” she said. The community positivity calculation does not include results from required resident and staff testing at long term care facilities.
“With identification of the B.1.1.7 variant in our district, we know the risk of spread is higher. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the B.1.1.7 variant is able to spread more easily, approximately 50% higher transmission, it leads to more severe COVID-19 illness, and some of the current treatments and vaccines are less effective with this variant,” Bever said.
Bever emphasized the four-county health district is still in moderate risk for spread of COVID-19 and is encouraging residents in the eligible age groups to register for a COVID-19 vaccine on the state vaccine registration and administration system, vaccinate.ne.gov. This site can also be reached by clicking on the red ribbon at the top of the SHDHD website home page at southheartlandhealth.org, and clicking on the picture of the vaccine to start the vaccine registration process in the Nebraska vaccine registration portal. Residents need to be registered in order to schedule an appointment for the vaccine.
Those needing assistance with registration should contact the NE State Vaccine hotline at 833-998-2275. Individuals 60 and over can contact Midland Area Agency on Aging for assistance with vaccine registration at 402-463-4565 Extension – 499.
According to SHDHD’s vaccine dashboard, the department and vaccine provider partners have administered nearly 20,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine. To date, 34% of South Heartland residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 23% of residents have completed their 1 or 2 dose series and will be considered fully vaccinated 14 days after receiving the final dose of the series.
“Getting vaccinated and staying the course on prevention are both important for keeping the spread of the virus low. Our goal is for more than 70% of our residents to be vaccinated,” Bever said. “The vaccines with emergency use authorization in the United States are shown to be effective against severe COVID-19 illness, hospitalization and death caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, including the CDC-designated variants of concern. Help us ‘finish strong’ in South Heartland by practicing prevention and getting your COVID-19 vaccine.”