South Heartland Health reports two deaths from COVID-19

The department saw the second highest amount of testing since the pandemic.
The department saw the second highest amount of testing since the pandemic.(Hailey Mach, KSNB)
Published: Jan. 26, 2022 at 7:09 AM CST
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - In the weekly COVID-19 update on January 25, South Heartland District Health Department (SHDHD) reported two additional deaths attributed to COVID-19. This brings the total deaths to 136 and the case fatality rate to 1.4 percent. The department also saw 23 percent more cases last week than the previous week. Community transmission of SARS-CoV-2 remains extremely high in the four-county area.

SHDHD executive director Michele Bever said the district continues to see high levels of reported tests, with 1,462 tests logged last week. This was the second highest week of testing since the beginning of the pandemic, the highest being 1,476 the week of December 5, 2020.

The percent positive tests, or positivity, which is one metric used to measure community transmission of the virus, rose again for the week ending January 22. Total positivity for the week was 33 percent, indicating one of every three people who were tested, were positive for COVID-19. Community positivity, which doesn’t count surveillance testing in long-term care facilities, rose to 57 percent last week, meaning more than half of the people tested were positive for COVID-19.

Additional data updates:

  • By age: 24 percent of the reported positive tests last week were individuals under age 20, the highest percent for this age group since September 4, 2021. 31 percent were age 20-39; 28 percent were age 40- 59, 14 percent were age 60-79, and three percent were 80+ years old.
  • In the district’s long-term care facilities, only about one in every 50 people tested for COVID were reported positive last week. In the last two weeks, there have been nine long-term care facilities with staff, or residents, or both testing positive. Ninety-four percent of the positives were staff, six percent were residents.
  • Overall, SHDHD logged 631 confirmed COVID-19 cases last week, a 23 percent increase over the previous week. There have been 275 confirmed cases counted in the current week through Tuesday. The total confirmed cases is now 9,535 since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.
  • In addition to extremely high weekly positivity, the district’s COVID-19 dashboard showed a record rolling seven-day total of 1,706 new cases per 100,000 on January 24. The rate dropped on January 25, but remained more than 13 times higher than the threshold for “high” community transmission, which is a rolling seven-day total of 100 cases per100,000 people.

The health department encourages community members to ask these three questions:

  • Am I at risk for severe illness from COVID-19?
  • Is anyone I live with, work with, or spend time around at risk for severe illness from COVID-19?
  • Do I want to avoid long-COVID-19 syndrome?

If the answer to any of these questions is ‘yes’, then it is especially important to use layers of prevention to protect yourself and the others. Severe illness means a person with COVID-19 may be hospitalized, require intensive care, require a ventilator to help them breathe, or may die. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies risk factors for severe COVID-19 illness, including age over 65, certain underlying medical conditions such as chronic illnesses or weakened immune system, overweight/obesity, history of smoking, Down syndrome, heart conditions, and more.

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