South Heartland District Health Department Risk Dial Drops Again

HASTINGS – South Heartland District Health Department (SHDHD) executive director Michele Bever reported the COVID-19 risk dial score dropped to 1.5 in moderate risk, down from 1.6 the previous week.

“Our good news for the district is that we had fewer cases last week than the week before, averaging 3.3 positive tests per day compared to 3.9 the previous week. The 14-day rolling average of new daily cases rose to 7.9 per 100,000 by the end of last week, but remained below our target of 8 new cases per day per 100,000 through early this week. We are disappointed to report that On April 6 the average increased to 8.4 new cases per day per 100,000 population,” Bever said.

“We continue to closely monitor for net changes in new cases week over week, as well as warning signs that new cases might be caused by variants, so that we can refer them to the Nebraska Public Health Lab for sequencing to identify the type,” she said.

Bever said the health department watches for circumstances such as patients with COVID re-infections, vaccine failure, and COVID patients with unusual travel history or unusual symptoms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that 51 cases of B.1.1.7 (United Kingdom) variant and 2 cases of the P.1 (Brazil) variant have been identified in Nebraska to date.

South Heartland hospitals saw a small uptick in COVID inpatients compared to the previous week and ventilator use for COVID patients for the first time in over a month. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services Coronavirus COVID 19 Dashboard also shows a statewide increase in daily hospitalizations due to COVID since the beginning of April.

Bever emphasized the 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, where site visitors can find current information about the vaccine and vaccine roll out in South Heartland. Next, click on the picture of the vaccine to start the vaccine registration process in the Nebraska vaccine registration portal.

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.

“Getting vaccinated and staying the course on prevention are both important for keeping the spread of the virus low. In South Heartland 20% of our residents are fully vaccinated and our goal is for more than 70% to be vaccinated,” Bever said. “All three of 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.”

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