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Risk dial lowers in South Heartland district

Two new deaths reported from COVID
New report includes two additional COVID-19 deaths in Clay County.
New report includes two additional COVID-19 deaths in Clay County.(KOLNKGIN)
Published: Jan. 7, 2021 at 12:32 PM CST
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - Two men in the South Heartland District Health Department territory have died from the coronavirus.

District officials say both men were from Clay County. One man was in his 70′s, the other in his 80′s. Both were said to have underlying health conditions.

There has now been a total of 49 deaths reported in the South Heartland district during the pandemic, which includes Adams, Clay, Nuckolls and Webster Counties.

District director Michele Bever had other updates in a press release Wednesday night. South Heartland’s COVID-19 risk dial dropped further in the orange, or elevated, risk level.

Bever said the drop to 2.4 from 2.5 the previous week was due in part to a plateau in the 14-day rolling average of new daily cases, which has remained at about 42 per 100K population for the past week and a half, since December 26. Other factors were a significantly improved hospital capacity on January 3, including higher ICU bed availability (73%), and the lowest number (three) of COVID-19-positive inpatients since mid-October.

“Vaccine availability, while still limited in amount, continues to be an important positive factor,” Bever said. “SHDHD and partners in the health district have administered 1,339 doses of COVID-19 vaccine since the first doses arrived here in mid-December, including 130 second doses.”

Bever said the health district is working through the first priority group.

The first priority group (Phase 1A) includes front line workers such as healthcare personnel, EMS, and long-term care facility residents and staff. The second priority group (Phase 1B) includes people 75 years and older, first responders, and essential workers in utilities, education, food/agriculture, and transportation. Phase 1C includes people 65-74 years of age, people with high-risk medical conditions, and people who live in congregate settings (incarcerated, colleges/universities).

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