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SHDHD: Weekly positive cases dropping

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: Feb. 1, 2022 at 10:31 PM CST
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - In the weekly COVID-19 update, South Heartland District Health Department (SHDHD) reported that last week’s case rates and weekly positivity dropped compared to the previous week. Results from sequencing indicate that omicron is the predominant strain in the four-county health district.

SHDHD executive director Michele Bever said community transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is still very high in the four-county area, but the decrease is a good sign that the district may be on a downtrend from the recent peak in COVID-19 cases seen two weeks ago.

The percent positive tests, or positivity, which is one metric used to measure community transmission of the virus, dropped for the week ending January 29. Total positivity for the week was 26%, indicating one of every four people who were tested, were positive for COVID-19.

Community positivity (based on people who do not live or work in long term care), dropped to 49.5% last week, meaning half of the people tested were positive for COVID-19. The district continues to see a high level of testing, with 1,355 tests logged last week (a drop of 7% from the previous week). This count does not include at-home tests that are not reported to the health department.

SHDHD also reported the department received four more sequence results in the past week; all four were identified as the omicron variant, bringing the health district total of omicron sequence results to twelve.

“To date, all of the specimens collected on or after December 27 for sequencing have been identified as Omicron,” Bever said. “Omicron has been identified in all four South Heartland counties.”

Additional data updates:

  • Overall, SHDHD logged 499 confirmed COVID-19 cases last week, a 21% decrease over the previous week, which had peaked at 631 cases. There have been 93 confirmed cases counted in the current week through Tuesday. The confirmed case total is 9,852 since March 2020.
  • The district’s COVID-19 dashboard is showing a drop in the rolling 7-day new cases per 100,000 people. On January 28, the rate was 1,104/100K, down from a high of 1,706/100K on January 24. As of February 1, the rate had dropped even lower, to 701/100K. This is still 7 times higher than the threshold for “high” community transmission, which is a 7-day total of 100 cases/100K.
  • Hospital capacity metrics have improved. As of February 1, there were 9 COVID-19 patients in South Heartland hospitals, down from 22 COVID inpatients on January 26, and 55% of staffed ICU beds were available.
  • COVID-19 vaccination: 48% of residents are fully vaccinated; 28% have received boosters.

The health department encourages residents to protect themselves and others who are at risk for severe COVID-19 illness by using multiple layers of prevention to reduce the risk of infection, severe illness, hospitalization and death.

“The most effective layer of prevention to reduce the risk of severe illness is getting fully vaccinated and boosted,” Bever added.

New evidence in a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides additional support for the effectiveness of vaccines against severe illness and hospitalization. Receipt of a booster dose was at least 90% effective in preventing COVID-19-associated hospitalizations.

Residents may 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.

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. SHDHD holds Wednesday vaccine clinics at Allen’s in Hastings from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm, weekly. Walk-ins are welcome. Contact South Heartland District Health Department at 402-462-6211 or 877-238-7595.

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