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Five more COVID deaths reported in South Heartland District

Case rates remain low for the four-county area
(Hailey Mach, KSNB)
Published: Mar. 30, 2022 at 5:05 PM CDT
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - The South Heartland District Health Department released its weekly update on Tuesday, where the district announced more deaths from COVID-19.

Executive director Michele Bever reported five more COVID-19 deaths, bringing the cumulative total to 147. Case rates remain low to moderate.

Bever said the deaths occurred over the past two months. The health department does not report deaths until they are confirmed with the death certificate by Nebraska DHHS.

Even as COVID-19 case rates have reached low to moderate levels in the four-county health district, the health department continues to encourage being up-to-date on vaccination and being vigilant about prevention steps.

“This is especially important for residents who are more likely to get very sick with COVID-19 and for people who live with, work with, or care for others who are more likely to have severe illness,” Bever said.

“Another highly transmissible variant of this virus, called BA.2, is overtaking the original omicron variant as the most common variant in the U.S.,” she said. “While BA.2 hasn’t been identified in our area yet, being up-to-date on vaccines is important to protect against severe disease from any new variants that find their way into our area.”

According to Bever, being “up-to-date” on COVID-19 vaccinations means completing the initial series of the vaccine followed by a booster dose after the recommended length of time. As of March 29, the FDA authorized and the CDC is recommending additional boosters for certain individuals to increase their protection against severe disease from COVID-19, specifically:

  • Certain immunocompromised individuals and people over the age of 50 who received an initial booster dose at least 4 months ago will be eligible for another mRNA (Moderna or Pfizer-BioNtech) booster.
  • Adults who received a primary vaccine and booster dose of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine at least 4 months ago may now receive a second booster dose using an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

Bever suggests that all households keep some at-home COVID-19 test kits on hand for rapid testing in case of symptoms. “Testing early is critical for starting treatment options, such as oral antiviral medicine or monoclonal antibodies, so they are effective at preventing severe illness,” she said.

A list of locations where members of the public can pick up the free eMed at-home COVID-19 test kits is posted on South Heartland’s website: southheartlandhealth.org. The locations for other types of COVID-19 testing are also listed on the website.

SHDHD recommends COVID-19 vaccines for anyone 5 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.

Additional SHDHD COVID-19 data updates:

  • 7 confirmed COVID-19 cases logged last week; 5 confirmed cases counted in the current week through Tuesday.
  • Cumulative case total for the health district is 10,238 since March 2020.
  • Rolling 7-day total of new cases per 100,000 people is 15.5 cases per 100K (March 29). “Moderate” community transmission is 10.00-49.99 cases per 100K in the past 7 days. “Low” community transmission is less than 10 cases per 100K in the past 7 days.
  • Percent positive tests, or positivity: Community positivity (based on tests in people who do not live or work in long term care) dropped to 5.6% for the week ending March 26, indicating one of every 18 people who were tested were positive for COVID-19. This indicates “moderate” community transmission. Goal for “low” transmission is to get to, and stay below, 5% positivity.
  • Surveillance testing in long-term care facilities: in the past 2 weeks, two (2) long-term care facilities reported residents or staff testing positive for COVID-19.
  • Testing decreased by 12.4%, with 218 tests logged last week compared to 249 the previous week. Reminder: at-home/self-tests are not included in the case or test counts.
  • Hospital capacity metrics continue to be favorable. As of March 29, there was one COVID-19 patient hospitalized and 56.6% of staffed ICU beds were available.
  • As of March 24, the CDC’s new COVID-19 Community Levels tool showed Adams, Clay, Nuckolls and Webster counties at ‘Low’ community transmission level. These levels are updated weekly on Thursday evening.
  • COVID-19 vaccination: 49.0% of residents are fully vaccinated. To date, 6% of children ages 5-11, 19% of children ages 12-15, and 24% of young people ages 16-19; 43% of ages 20-34; 54% of ages 35-44; 55% of ages 45-54; 62% of ages 55-64; 90% of ages 65-74; 90% of ages 75-84; and 93% of ages 85+ are fully vaccinated.

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