South Heartland District Health Department Seeking Help for Contact Tracing from DHHS

HASTINGS – South Heartland District Health Department (SHDHD) officials reported seven new lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases for Tuesday through Thursday (July 28-30), bringing the total number of cases in the four-county health district to 411. By county, the new totals are 341 in Adams, 52 in Clay, 11 in Webster, and 7 in Nuckolls. Officials also stated a Clay County resident, a female in her 60s previously reported as testing positive, has been hospitalized due to COVID-19.

New cases in Adams County: 3 males (1 in his 20s, 1 in his 30s, 1 in his 40s); 3 females (1 under 20, 1 in her 40s, 1 in her 50s)

New cases in Clay County: 1 female in her 50s

SHDHD’s executive director Michele Bever also reported that South Heartland recently began requesting assistance from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) contact tracing team to help SHDHD staff process the increased volume of cases in the four-county health district.

“The goal of contact tracing is to quickly identify anyone who has been exposed – or may have been exposed – in order to stop the spread of the illness,” she said. “Contact investigations help protect the friends, family, work colleagues, teammates, church family, community members and others in close proximity to those with the virus. A quick response to help people isolate, if they are infected, or quarantine, if they have been exposed, means fewer additional people are at risk of becoming infected. This is one way to slow the spread.”

“When our residents and visitors to our area are not following the directed health measures or practicing prevention, there are more cases and more contacts to every case. We have been seeing these increases in the last several weeks,” Bever said. “This impacts our department and strains our local public health workforce – and we are unable to respond quickly. The state public health contact tracing team is helping us address this additional load.”

“It would be even more helpful if people would follow the directed health measures, practice physical distancing, wear masks, and keep groups small, so that fewer people are exposed to the virus to begin with and there would be fewer cases and contacts to investigate,” Bever said. “We can expose people up to two days before we develop symptoms ourselves, and some people never have symptoms but are positive and can shed virus. This is why it is important for everyone to do their part and always practice prevention.”

Key prevention actions to reduce the spread of COVID-19 include: staying at home if we have any symptoms, even mild symptoms that are consistent with COVID-19;  keeping six feet between ourselves and others; wearing a face covering as a barrier to keep our germs from spreading to others, especially when we are unable to be physically distanced; washing our hands frequently with soap and water; and cleaning and disinfecting any frequently-touched surfaces.

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.

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