South Heartland: More than 100 students, staff out due to COVID-19 exposure

The COVID-19 Risk Dial for the South Heartland District moves up slightly, but remains still in the elevated section.
The COVID-19 Risk Dial for the South Heartland District moves up slightly, but remains still in the elevated section.(KSNB)
Published: Sep. 30, 2020 at 9:41 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 2.1 to 2.3, continuing in ‘elevated risk’," said SHDHD Executive Director Michele Bever.

Bever reported on hospital capacity and COVID-19 in long term care facilities. She said South Heartland area hospitals were averaging 64% ICU bed availability as of Monday. At that point in time, there were four patients hospitalized due to COVID-19, none in critical care, and no ventilators were in use.

“There are currently four long-term care facilities in our district with either residents or staff or both that have tested positive in the past two weeks,” Bever said. “The totals are 13 staff and 28 residents who tested positive for COVID-19, with two of the residents requiring hospitalization in area hospitals.”

Bever also reported COVID-19 impact on PreK-12 schools in Adams, Clay, Nuckolls and Webster counties. On September 29, there were 128 students and staff out, including 103 students and 14 staff in quarantine due to exposure to COVID-19, and 11 individuals (6 students, 5 staff) in isolation due to testing positive for COVID-19. An additional 46 students are self-monitoring and required to wear masks in lieu of quarantine, following the Governor’s directed health measures that went into effect last week.

Bever said 54 positive results were reported to the health department last week, making seven recent weeks with an increase in the number of new weekly cases.

“The current trends in new cases and increasing positivity are definitely heading in the wrong direction,” she said.

On Monday, SHDHD had reported positivity (percent positive tests) for the week ending September 26 was 14.5%, up from 10.1% the week before. Communities with positivity below 5% are considered to have low spread of the coronavirus.

“We had seven straight weeks in late May through mid-July when our positivity was below 5%, and one week in mid-June when our positivity was below 1%,” Bever said. “This shows that we are able to manage the spread of the virus when we take precautions and focus on prevention in our communities.”

The risk dial is one tool public health uses to communicate risk of coronavirus spread. Bever encouraged residents to review and use the Risk Dial Guidance for the “elevated” level of risk in order to help reduce the spread of the virus.

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).

Copyright 2020 KSNB. All rights reserved.

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