Risk Dial moves up in South Heartland district

(West Central Health Department)
Published: Aug. 12, 2020 at 7:38 AM CDT
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - The South Heartland District Health Department’s COVID-19 Risk Dial has moved from moderate (yellow) into the ‘elevated’ (orange) risk level.

The dial provides a summary of current COVID-19 conditions in the South Heartland District.

“The needle on the risk dial moved to 2.2 this week, up from 1.8 the previous week,” said SHDHD executive director Michele Bever.

Bever reported that several factors included in the risk dial calculations had worsened:

  • The positivity rate for last week increased to 7.5% up from 4.5% the previous week.
  • The number of cases increased (net increase of 26%) compared to the previous week, even though two counties, Nuckolls and Webster, had zero cases for the second week in a row.
  • Intensive care unit (ICU) bed availability decreased
  • Hospital staff capacity decreased – more staff were absent from work last week for reasons related to COVID-19.
  • Testing availability remained low – only 32% of test results were returned within 2 days and not all residents have easy or timely access to free testing.

In addition, Bever said that inability to complete all contact investigations within 24 hours, new exposures/cases in individuals associated with schools and colleges, social gatherings with limited attention to social distancing, and low mask use in public are all factors that influenced the risk level. 

“We encourage residents to view the level-specific recommendations that go along with the four risk levels,” Bever said.

At the ‘elevated’ (orange) level, recommendations for at-risk individuals (adults over age 65 and anyone with underlying health conditions) include staying home as much as possible, relying on help for needs outside the home (groceries, medications, etc.) and staying distanced from individuals who work outside of the home.   

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