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South Heartland Health updates COVID-19, vaccination numbers

South Heartland Health reported 16 COVID-19 cases for the week ending July 31.
South Heartland Health reported 16 COVID-19 cases for the week ending July 31.(KSNB)
Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 7:21 AM CDT
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - The South Heartland District Health Department’s (SHDHD) executive director Michele Bever provided a weekly update to keep residents informed about COVID-19 in Adams, Clay, Nuckolls and Webster counties.

The department logged a total of 16 lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases for the week ending July 31, twice as many as the prior week, and fourteen new cases so far in the current week. The health district’s current cumulative total is 4,977 confirmed cases.

As of July 30, certain county-level data can only be reported for populations of 20,000 or greater. Bever said the department is in the process of modifying the way they will share information. The “risk dial” approach is under review and will not be updated this week. The COVID-19 data dashboard will begin to highlight factors that can help the public determine overall community risk and the need to use various prevention strategies in their activities. The department hopes to have the dashboard updates completed by the end of the week. The three main factors for evaluating community risk will be: (1) level of SARS-CoV-2 community transmission (level of spread in the community), (2) health system capacity, (3) vaccination coverage.

Based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, SHDHD will be using two metrics to describe community transmission of COVID-19. Specifically, a “Low” transmission is considered to be no more 10 cases per 100,000 people (using a seven-day average), or a test positivity rate of less than five percent. “Moderate” transmission is 10 to 50 cases per 100,000 people, or a positivity rate between five percent and eight percent. “Substantial” transmission is 50 to 100 cases per 100,000 people, or a positivity rate between eight percent and 10 percent. “High” transmission is 100 or more cases per 100,000 people or a positivity rate of 10 percent or higher.

Bever reported the overall weekly positivity (percent positive tests) increased from 5.1 percent to 6.8 percent (moderate transmission). For the general population by itself (outside of long-term care settings), the percent positive tests increased from 10 percent to 12.6 percent for the week ending July 31 (high transmission), while percent positive tests in long-term care facilities remained at zero. The seven-day average of daily new cases per 100,000 was 6.3 on August 2 (low transmission), compared to 2.5/100K the week before.

Hospital capacity is currently tracked using the fraction of staffed intensive care unit beds that are available and the percent of inpatients that are COVID positive. Beginning this week, the hospital data dashboard will return to being updated every weekday, courtesy of the Tri-Cities Medical Response System (TRIMRS). As of August 3rd, eight percent of hospital inpatients were COVID-19 positive and the available staffed ICU beds decreased to 36.4 percent.

Vaccination coverage will continue to be tracked and updated on South Heartland’s vaccine data dashboard, including the percent of residents fully vaccinated, and the percent of residents with at least one dose of vaccine. A new four-county map on SHDHD’s main dashboard homepage shows the vaccination coverage by county. To date, 39 percent of South Heartland residents are fully vaccinated and 43 percent have received at least one dose. This local vaccine coverage continues to lag behind the national rates, where 49.7 percent are fully vaccinated and 57.8 percent have received at least one dose.

“We continue to promote applying as many layers of prevention as you can, in as many places as you can. This is the way we decrease risk of spread to vulnerable populations such as people who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated and those with compromised immune systems. The layers of prevention include hand washing, staying home from work, school and activities when we are sick, wearing facemasks, and all of the other disease prevention steps we can take to protect ourselves and others,” Bever said.

“Of the hospitalization data available in Nebraska, 97 percent of hospitalizations for COVID-19 since January 2021 have been among not-fully vaccinated individuals. We can’t emphasize enough that the most effective way to protect ourselves and others from severe illness is to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The vaccinations provide protection against all known variants, including Delta.”

SHDHD’s vaccine webpage (southheartlandhealth.org) includes a list of locations offering vaccine in the South Heartland District and which vaccine products are offered at each site. The list is updated frequently to include new times, dates, whether walk-ins are accepted, and, if needed, how to make an appointment at each site. In addition, many health care providers in the district are offering COVID-19 vaccine to their patients.

Bever said SHDHD is holding weekly walk-in COVID vaccination clinics with Pfizer vaccine on Wednesdays through the month of August, 5-7 pm at the west end of Allen’s on Second Street in Hastings. Families are encouraged to bring their children age 12 and above (minor children must be accompanied by parent or guardian). Others are also welcome. Enter at Allen’s west door; masks are required. Participants may register in advance at vaccinate.ne.gov.

Bever encourages residents to contact their personal doctor or the health department if they have questions about the vaccine. Contact South Heartland District Health Department at 402-462-6211 or 877-238-7595.

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