COVID-19 risk dial moves to elevated for South Heartland District

The COVID-19 Risk Dial for the South Heartland District has crossed into the elevated (orange) category.
The COVID-19 Risk Dial for the South Heartland District has crossed into the elevated (orange) category.(KSNB)
Published: Sep. 23, 2020 at 9:07 PM CDT
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - South Heartland District Health Department (SHDHD) officials reported the weekly update to SHDHD’s COVID-19 Risk Dial, which is a summary of current COVID-19 conditions in the South Heartland District.

“Our health district COVID-19 risk summary score moved from 2.0 to 2.1, which is considered ‘elevated risk',” said SHDHD executive director Michele Bever.

“The risk dial is one tool we use to communicate the risk of coronavirus spread in our district,” she said. “We encourage families, schools, worksites, event organizers and whole communities to continue to take actions to reduce the risk of spread of this coronavirus. We encourage residents to review the Risk Dial guidance for the “moderate” and “elevated” levels of risk and work to incorporate as much as you can into the things that you do and the places you go."

SHDHD reported the 14-day average of new daily cases per hundred thousand was 10.3, up from 8.6 the week before.

“We are very concerned about the continuing upward trend in weekly case numbers in the past six weeks,” Bever said. “There were 53 positive results reported to us last week – which is a 61% increase over the previous week - and second only to the week ending May 2, when 85 positive tests were reported to the health department.”

As for health care system capacity, Bever said South Heartland area hospitals were averaging 45% ICU bed availability as of Monday (9/21). At that point in time, there were six (6) patients hospitalized due to COVID-19, including one in critical care, and no ventilators were in use.

Bever also reported COVID-19 impact on PreK-12 schools in Adams, Clay, Nuckolls and Webster counties.

On September 22, there were 98 students and staff out, including 77 students and 12 staff in quarantine due to exposure to COVID-19, and nine individuals (4 students, 5 staff) in isolation due to testing positive for COVID-19.

“An additional 31 students are self-monitoring and required to wear masks, following the Governor’s new directed health measures that went into effect on September 21,” Bever said.

“When people experience any symptoms of COVID, they should stay home from work, school and other activities and get tested,” Bever said.

Symptoms include fever and/or new onset of cough, shortness of breath, and new loss of taste or smell. Other symptoms can include muscle aches, head ache, chills, sore throat, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, congestion and/or runny nose.

“We were glad to see the testing turnaround time improve last week,” Bever said. “Seventy percent of the results were back within two days, which helps get people back to work and school, and improves the effectiveness of the contact tracing process."

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

South Heartland District case counts and trends can be found on SHDHD’s dashboard of local COVID-19 case statistics.

Copyright 2020 KSNB. All rights reserved.

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