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Two COVID-19 deaths reported by South Heartland Health

Hospital capacity is the highest it's been in nearly a year at South Heartland hospitals.
Hospital capacity is the highest it's been in nearly a year at South Heartland hospitals.(Hailey Mach, KSNB)
Published: Nov. 3, 2021 at 7:19 AM CDT
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices unanimously recommended Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children age 5 to 11 years old.

South Heartland District Health Department (SHDHD) is expecting to receive an allotment of pediatric doses of Pfizer vaccine this week.

SHDHD executive director Michele Bever said she hopes that area vaccine providers could be ready to administer vaccine as early as next week.

“Once we receive the vaccine, we hope to be able to distribute it to our approved COVID-19 vaccine providers at primary care and pediatric healthcare provider offices in our four counties by early next week, so that vaccine will be available at locations throughout the district,” Bever said.

She said South Heartland’s vaccine webpage will be updated to let the public know where and when pediatric doses will be available in Adams, Clay, Nuckolls and Webster counties.

“With younger children now eligible to receive the vaccine, South Heartland parents will have a safe, effective option for protecting their young children from the virus that causes COVID-19. We encourage parents with questions to talk with their pediatrician or family health care provider to learn more about the vaccine and why it is important for children to be vaccinated,” Bever said.

While pediatric dose approval is good news, the health department is continuing to encourage youth and adults of all ages to take a first step and get their initial COVID-19 vaccine.

“Approximately 20,500 South Heartland residents (45 percent) have completed their initial series of vaccine, which means they are less likely to become infected, less likely to be hospitalized and less likely to die due to COVID-19 compared with those who are not fully vaccinated,” Bever said.

Bever said she was sad to report two more COVID-19 deaths had been confirmed, bringing the cumulative confirmed deaths to 99 for the health district.

SHDHD does not report deaths attributed to COVID-19 until confirmed by death certificate. She said since January 1, 2021, 90 percent of the confirmed COVID deaths in South Heartland were in individuals who were not fully vaccinated.

“With community transmission remaining high, we are continuing to promote ALL of the prevention layers to help curb community spread of the virus that causes COVID-19,” she said. “Prevention layers include staying home from school, work, and activities when you have symptoms, keeping a six-foot distance between you and others, wearing a mask, washing hands frequently and getting vaccinated. Vaccination is the most effective prevention layer we have. For the best protection, we encourage vaccination and using as many other prevention layers as you can,” she said.

According to SHDHD’s Hospital Data dashboard, South Heartland hospitals reported there were seventeen COVID inpatients as of Monday morning, November 1 – the highest number of hospitalized COVID patients since December 2020.

The health district logged 86 lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases for the week ending October 30, but also saw a 27 percent drop in the number of COVID tests conducted last week compared to the previous week.

SHDHD reported another 62 confirmed positive cases so far in the present week, bringing the cumulative total since the beginning of the pandemic to 6,483 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Bever said SHDHD’s local COVID-19 Advisory will continue to remain in effect for the four counties while community transmission levels remain high, as indicated by both the case rate and community positivity metrics.

The rate of new cases (confirmed COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in the past seven days) has remained in the high (red) level of community transmission. For the four-county district, the seven-day rate was 239 cases per 100,000 people on November 2.

Overall positivity increased to 11.0 percent for the week ending October 30, which high community transmission, in the red level. Community positivity (which excludes test results from regular surveillance testing in long-term care facilities) rose to 27 percent (red level: high transmission) and community transmission in the district’s four counties ranged from 19 percent to 40 percent

South Heartland’s vaccine webpage, southheartlandhealth.org, provides a list of locations offering COVID-19 vaccine in the South Heartland District and which vaccine products are offered at each site.

Bever said many health care providers in the district are also offering COVID-19 vaccine to their patients and that residents should consider getting their COVID-19 vaccine and flu shot at the same visit.

Bever encourages residents to contact their personal doctor or the health department if they have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, additional doses for immunocompromised individuals, booster doses, or COVID-19 testing. Contact South Heartland District Health Department at 402-462-6211 or 877-238-7595.

Bever said people looking for COVID-19 testing may refer to the SHDHD website, southheartlandhealth.org, to find a list of testing sites, types of tests offered, and hours when testing is available.

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