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“We can’t let down our guard,” says Central District Health Department Director

Health Director “somewhat hopeful” about decline in COVID cases
The number of new cases in Hall, Hamilton and Merrick Counties was trending downward.
The number of new cases in Hall, Hamilton and Merrick Counties was trending downward.(Central District Health Department)
Published: Dec. 8, 2020 at 4:13 PM CST
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - The director of the Central District Health Department is “somewhat hopeful” about a recent decline in COVID-19 cases, but remains concerned.

Executive Director Teresa Anderson said Tuesday during a briefing at Grand Island city hall that there were 506 new cases last week in Central’s district of Hall, Hamilton and Merrick counties. That’s substantially less than the 984 cases recorded the week ending Nov. 14. That was the highest number recorded during the pandemic so far.

There were six deaths recorded last week, which is lower than the nine deaths recorded during Thanksgiving week, which was the peak so far this fall. The highest number of deaths during the pandemic occurred the week ending April 25, when 19 deaths were recorded.

The positivity rate, which is the ratio of positive tests to tests done, was 37% last week, which is a higher percentage recorded for all but six weeks since the pandemic started. Anderson said the rate was decreasing but was still “alarming.”

Anderson said the district probably would not know the impact of travel and gatherings during Thanksgiving week until the middle of next week. She urged people to avoid travel and large gatherings during Christmas and New Years. For those who choose to travel, Anderson recommended testing before and after the trip and an isolation period upon return.

Anderson said her office was working closely with the four hospitals in the district for vaccination which is expected to begin sometime next week. She said the first priority will be bedside health care workers. She said vaccines represent a light at the end of the tunnel, but, “...in the meantime we can’t let down our guard.”

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