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South Heartland Health updates COVID-19, vaccination numbers

South Heartland Health reports cases down, but community spread still significant.
South Heartland Health reports cases down, but community spread still significant.(Hailey Mach, KSNB)
Published: Mar. 2, 2022 at 6:47 AM CST
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - In the weekly COVID-19 update on March 1, South Heartland District Health Department (SHDHD) reported an additional decline in case rate and noted the district is maintaining at the ‘substantial’ level of community spread.

SHDHD executive director Michele Bever said community transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in the health district had previously dropped from ‘high’ to ‘substantial’, based on the district’s rolling seven-day total of new cases per 100,000 people, and now had sustained at that level for 12 days in a row. As of March 1, the seven-day total had dropped to 60/100K. “Substantial” community transmission is a seven-day total of 50.00-99.99 cases/100K. “Low” community transmission is below a seven-day total of 10 cases/100K. The district’s case rate had been “high” (above 100 cases/100K) since August 16, 2021.

The percent positive tests, or positivity, is the other metric SHDHD uses to measure community transmission of the virus. Total positivity increased slightly for the week ending February 26 to 8.0 percent, indicating one of every twelve people who were tested were positive for COVID-19 and indicating “moderate” community transmission.

Community positivity (based on people who do not live or work in long term care), dropped to 16.5 percent last week, meaning about one to two people in every ten people who were tested were positive for COVID-19. Positivity of 10 percent or above is considered “high” community transmission, indicating there is still significant community transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19.

Bever said SHDHD was planning to continue posting the case rate and positivity metrics on the department’s COVID-19 dashboard, but also had added a link to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new COVID-19 Community Levels tool. According to CDC, this tool is available to “help communities decide what prevention steps to take based on the latest data.”

The CDC’s tool for COVID-19 community levels uses three metrics:

(1) new cases per 100,000 people in the past seven days;

(2) seven-day total of new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 population; and

(3) percent of staffed inpatient hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients (seven-day average). The results are presented by county with three levels: Low, Medium or High. As of March 1, the CDC showed Adams, Clay, Nuckolls and Webster counties at ‘Medium’ community transmission level.

The CDC’s tool includes guidance on what steps individuals and communities should take based on their COVID-19 Community Level. At “medium” level CDC guidance for individuals includes:

  • If you are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe illness, talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need to wear a mask and take other precautions.
  • Stay up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Get tested if you have symptoms.
  • People may choose to mask at any time. People with symptoms, a positive test, or exposure to someone with COVID-19 should wear a mask.

SHDHD recommends COVID-19 vaccines for anyone five years and older. 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. 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.

Additional SHDHD COVID-19 data updates:

  • 34 confirmed COVID-19 cases logged last week, a 20 percent decrease over the previous week’s total of 43 cases. There have been 10 confirmed cases counted in the current week through Tuesday. The new cumulative total for the health district is 10,200 since March 2020.
  • The district saw a slight increase in testing, with 585 tests logged last week, eight percent higher than the previous week.
  • Positivity in long-term care facilities increased to 3.9 percent last week compared to 1.5 percent the prior week. In the past 2 weeks, 4 long-term care facilities have reported staff or residents or both testing positive for COVID-19.
  • Hospital capacity metrics have improved again. As of March 1, there were no COVID-19 patients hospitalized and 72.7 percent of staffed ICU beds were available.
  • COVID-19 vaccination: 48.4 percent of residents are fully vaccinated; 28 percent have received boosters. To date, six percent of children ages 5-11, 19 percent of children ages 12-15, and 24 percent of young people ages 16-19; 42 percent of ages 20-34; 54 percent of ages 35-44; 55 percent of ages 45-54; 62 percent of ages 55-64; 90 percent of ages 65-74; 89 percent of ages 75-84; and 93 percent of ages 85+ are fully vaccinated.

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