HASTINGS – South Heartland District Health Department (SHDHD) officials reported three more COVID-19-related deaths of previously reported cases, bringing the health district total to thirty-seven (37). SHDHD does not report deaths until the department receives notification regarding cause of death on the death certificate.
SHDHD Executive Director Michele Bever reported that two of the deaths were Adams County residents – both were males in their 70s with underlying medical conditions, and one Clay County resident – a woman in her 80s with underlying health conditions. “We extend our deepest sympathies to these families who lost loved ones to COVID-19,” she said.
Bever also reported that South Heartland is ramping up to receive and distribute COVID vaccine in partnership with area hospitals and is coordinating with the 23-county Tri-Cities Medical Response System (TRIMRS) and the State of Nebraska in these efforts. “There are two vaccine products likely to begin arriving to the state within the next few weeks and we are working together to plan how to distribute the doses allocated to us for the priority groups in our area,” she said.
“Based on directions from the federal level, the first doses will be for long-term care staff and residents and front-line health care workers, including emergency medical services – EMS,” Bever said. “However, we are not expecting to receive enough doses with the first shipments to cover all of the individuals in these groups, so we will need to prioritize further.”
To help prioritize, Bever said the planning team is asking hospitals, primary care clinics, other health care practices, and EMS to identify how many of their staff are providing direct patient care. “We are also requesting they report the percent of staff providing patient care who are wanting to get the vaccine as soon as it is available,” she said. “This will help us get the vaccine to the priority individuals who need it and want it most.” Bever said there is a separate federal program partnering with pharmacies to manage COVID vaccine distribution to staff and residents at long-term care facilities.
Bever reported there are nine (9) long term care facilities (LTCFs) in the South Heartland district with staff, residents, or both who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 2 weeks. Based on the South Heartland Hospital Data dashboard, hospitals in South Heartland district were caring for twenty-four (24) patients with COVID-19. Overall, 53% of inpatients were COVID-positive and 27% of the staffed intensive care unit beds were available.
Bever also reported South Heartland’s COVID-19 risk dial is remaining in the red zone, rising to 3.2 from 3.0 the previous week due, in part, to a 52% net increase cases and an increase in positivity to 16.8%.
The levels of risk for COVID-19 spread are indicated on the risk dial as low (0-1.0, green), moderate (1.0-2.0, yellow), elevated (2.0-3.0, orange) and severe (3.0-4.0, red). The COVID Risk Dial & Community Guidance can be found on SHDHD webpages at www.southheartlandhealth.org. South Heartland District case counts and trends can be found on SHDHD’s dashboard of local COVID-19 case statistics. This dashboard, along with updates, guidance, news releases and other COVID-19 information and links can be found on the SHDHD website: www.southheartlandhealth.org. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) provides daily updates to Nebraska’s coronavirus COVID-19 cases on their Data Dashboard at http://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/Coronavirus.