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SHDHD sees record COVID case week

South Heartland District Health Department holds COVID-19 press briefing Friday morning.
South Heartland District Health Department holds COVID-19 press briefing Friday morning.(Hailey Mach, KSNB)
Published: Jan. 11, 2022 at 10:57 PM CST
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - In the weekly COVID-19 update on January 11, South Heartland District Health Department (SHDHD) reported daily records of new COVID-19 cases on Monday and Tuesday. SHDHD also reported logging increased numbers of cases associated with long-term care facilities in the past two weeks.

Executive Director Michele Bever said the department is receiving record numbers of reports confirming COVID-19 infections in the four-county health district. On Monday and Tuesday, there were 106 and 114 positive lab reports, respectively, for a total of 220 new cases in the first two days of the week. This compares to a total of 265 cases for all of the previous week and 142 for the week prior to that. The previous record daily count was 89 cases, during the fall surge over a year ago, on November 30, 2020.

Some of the new cases are associated with long-term care facilities, where residents are at higher risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death due to age and underlying health conditions. Bever said in the past two weeks, 9 resident cases and 24 staff cases of COVID-19 were reported from 8 affected facilities. The weekly positivity in long-term care facilities increased from very low (<0.5%) through the month of December to 4.2% for the week ending January 8.

Community transmission of the virus in the four-county district continues to worsen, based on the weekly test positivity levels and the rolling 7-day average of new cases per 100,000 people. Community positivity was 43.7% for the week ending January 8. Overall positivity (which includes long term care surveillance testing) increased to 27.9%. Positivity of 10% or more is considered high community transmission.

In Adams County, weekly community positivity rose to 50%, meaning half of the individuals who got tested were positive for SARS-CoV-2. In the other three counties, community positivity ranged from 30%-34%, meaning about one in every three people who got tested were infected.

The rate of new cases in the district also jumped dramatically, from 398 per 100,000 for the seven days ending last Tuesday to 821 new cases per 100,000 for the most recent 7 days ending Tuesday, January 11, more than doubling in one week. South Heartland has recorded 8,339 confirmed infections since the beginning of the pandemic.

Due to the high volume of cases, most people who test positive will not be receiving a call from the health department. Instead, individuals may receive an informational text from SHDHD or from Nebraska DHHS. All are encouraged to visit southheartlandhealth.org for guidance regarding isolation and quarantine, testing resources and vaccine information.

SHDHD’s hospital dashboard indicated 36% of staffed ICU beds available and an aggregate census of eight COVID-19 inpatients as of Tuesday morning’s hospital reports. The percent of hospital inpatients that were COVID-19 positive was 20%.

“This surge in cases does not bode well for our residents who are at higher risk or for our local and state health systems, which are already over-burdened with patients and experiencing staff shortages,” Bever said. “When community transmission is high, more people who are medically vulnerable are affected.”

“High transmission also drives more errors – mutations - when many, many copies of the virus are being made,” Bever added. “Mutations can lead to additional variants that might be even more highly transmissible, cause more severe illness, or be less responsive to our available treatments. What we can do in our communities, is to double-down on efforts to reduce spread of the virus.”

The health department recommends using multiple layers of prevention to reduce the risk of infection, severe illness, hospitalization and death, including:

  • Getting fully vaccinated and boosted
  • Getting tested before attending indoor gatherings, especially around individuals who are at higher risk of severe infection.
  • Avoiding crowded places or confined indoor spaces
  • Staying home when you have symptoms
  • Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth in public indoor settings
  • Washing hands frequently
  • Keeping 6 feet distance from others
  • If you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, getting tested before being around others.

The health department is encouraging South Heartland residents to get fully-vaccinated and boosted as soon as they are eligible. Residents may contact their personal doctor or the health department if they have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, additional doses for immuno-compromised individuals, booster doses, or COVID-19 testing.

COVID-19 vaccines are recommended for anyone 5 years and older. For locations of COVID-19 tests or COVID-19 vaccine, refer to the SHDHD website, southheartlandhealth.org. Please note the time of the Wednesday vaccine clinics at Allen’s in Hastings is now 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm, weekly. Contact South Heartland District Health Department at 402-462-6211 or 877-238-7595.

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