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Central district in red zone; health department struggles to keep up

Published: Oct. 28, 2020 at 8:44 PM CDT
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - Grand Island is officially in the red zone for reported COVID-19 cases, and the Central District Health Department is struggling to keep up.

One out of five people who are being tested in the Central District are coming up positive, and this gradual increase in cases over the last six weeks has caused the health department to raise their risk dial to a 3.1 out of 4 in the severe category.

There are a few factors contributing to the dial moving into the red zone - the number of hospital beds which the department said is stable, the rapid number of cases and whether or not they can contact trace within 24 hours.

Right now, the health department can’t keep up with all the cases coming in, even after hiring additional staff members and having them work on the weekends to track cases. They are now currently getting help from the Department of Health and Human Services to handle the workload.

“We’ve shifted some of that workload to DHHS and our focus right now is on schools," CDHD Director Teresa Anderson said. "We want to make sure those kids who are positive in school or staff that are positive in school, that we get to them as quickly as possible to identify anyone that may need to be quarantined and take the necessary steps.”

GIPS said they’re doing everything they can because it’s in the best interest of the students to remain in school.

"We know that if we have to close schools, then those kids are going to be all over the place in the community, because they’re tired of being cooped up, and then our daycares have to pick up, our parents have to stay home, and so it creates a more susceptibility to spread,” said GIPS Associate Superintendent Robin Dexter.

Grand Island school districts haven’t experienced a large outbreak in cases within their buildings as of yet, and officials hope it stays this way.

“Parents I know are getting a little frustrated that the child may come home and be quarantined for 14 days but never have COVID, but they’ve been very supportive and we’re just going to keep monitoring," Dexter said. "Again, when a student tests positive it’s usually contracted outside of school.”

GIPS urges everyone to wear masks and follow the three C’s directed by the governor, because it will help them keep schools open and students safe.

The department said people don’t need to panic, but need to be cautious and follow health guidelines. They suggest people should stay away from large gatherings in the case they’re asymptomatic, and possibly spreading the virus to others unknowingly.

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