South Heartland District Health Department sees steady rise in COVID cases in new year

Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 5:36 PM CST
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - Nearly two weeks into the new year, local health departments are reporting a steady increase in new COVID-19 cases after a big decrease at the end of the year.

On Jan. 3, it marked a recent low point in the South Heartland District Health Department of about 42 new COVID cases a day for the rolling average. Now as cases increase, that number is reaching into the 50′s again.

Executive Director Michele Bever said it is clear the district is on the back end of the second surge of COVID cases and hospitalizations seen in November. She attributes that to mask policies, people having small holiday gatherings, and other safety precautions.

Now with the vaccine out and Directed Health Measures relaxed, she believes some may have loosened on their precautions. Bever said people can’t yet let up on avoiding the three C’s.

“We’ve brought this curve down again but as before it’s not gone. The coronavirus is still circulating in our communities and if we are not vigilant it will continue to tick up again and could take off,” Bever said. “The other thing we need to keep in mind is there is this new variant.”

The new variant has not yet been reported in Nebraska but health departments are watching for it.

As for the vaccine in South Heartland, they are still working through the first group made up of healthcare workers.

“Right now there are still limited vaccines coming out allotted to each health district,” Bever said. “We don’t quite know when it’s coming and how much we’re going to get week to week so it’s hard for us to plan and give people exact timelines.”

They hope to begin vaccinating people over the age of 75 in the next couple of weeks.

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