Confirmed COVID death brings total to 151; COVID-19 bivalent boosters available across district
SHDHD stresses importance of antiviral therapies
HASTINGS, Neb. (PRESS RELEASE) - In the health department’s weekly health update on September 13, South Heartland District Health Department (SHDHD) executive director Michele Bever announced another death of a South Heartland resident attributed to COVID-19. This brings the total for the district to 151 since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.
Bever said the death occurred within the last 4 months but was confirmed this week. Deaths are not counted in the tally until SHDHD receives a confirmation from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services that the death was attributed to COVID.
“Testing increased 66% last week and South Heartland’s COVID-19 case rate continues to be substantial to high,” Bever said. “The health department does not count at-home test kit results in the testing numbers or case counts, which means the reported numbers are undercounted.”
Bever said the number of patients in South Heartland hospitals was the highest it had been since February 2022, with 7 patients hospitalized due to COVID on Monday and a census of 6 patients in the hospitals on Tuesday.
Long-term care facilities continue to be affected by COVID-19 with 5 facilities (a total of 17 residents and 5 staff) currently experiencing outbreaks.
She said the best way to prevent hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID is for residents to take advantage of the new COVID-19 bivalent booster vaccine, which is now available across the district.
Both products, including Pfizer bivalent booster (for ages 12+) and Moderna bivalent booster (for ages 18+) are available at South Heartland’s weekly COVID-19 vaccine clinic at the west end of Allen’s grocery store, on Wednesdays, 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.
To be eligible for the new booster, individuals must have completed the primary series shots and be at least 2 months out from their last COVID-19 primary or booster shot. Since the vaccine is limited initially, interested residents may call South Heartland to get their name on a list for the Moderna or Pfizer bivalent booster at South Heartland’s Allen’s clinic.
Residents are encouraged to go to the SHDHD webpage, southheartlandhealth.ne.gov, for updates on which locations in Adams, Clay, Nuckolls, and Webster Counties are carrying the bivalent COVID-19 vaccines and how to make appointments or get on a list at each location.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, getting vaccinated and staying up-to-date on COVID vaccination is the most important and effective way to prevent serious illness, hospitalization, and death (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/stay-up-to-date.html).
The bivalent COVID-19 vaccines are mRNA vaccines that were created to build more specific immunity against the more recent variants of the virus that cause COVID-19. These are the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants.
The most current Nebraska genomic surveillance report shows that 86% of the circulating virus is BA.5 and 10% is BA.4 or BA.4.6.
The health department continues to recommend keeping COVID-19 test kits on hand. Individuals who are at higher risk of severe illness, including those over 65 years old, those with chronic health conditions, and those who are immunocompromised, should test if they are experiencing symptoms.
If they test positive, high-risk individuals should ask their health care provider or the health department about their eligibility for antiviral medications. Starting antiviral medication early in the course of COVID-19 infection is highly effective in reducing the length and severity of the illness.
“Severe COVID-19 illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths are preventable through vaccination and early treatment,” Bever said.
For locations offering COVID-19 vaccine or COVID-19 tests, refer to the SHDHD website, southheartlandhealth.ne.gov or call the health department office, 1-877-238-7595.
For weekly state, national, and global COVID-19 updates, visit the UNMC Global Center for Health Security: https://www.unmc.edu/healthsecurity/health-emergencies/covid19-updates.html
SHDHD COVID-19 dashboard update on 09.13.2022:
- 40 confirmed COVID-19 cases logged last week compared to 35 the week before
- 16 confirmed cases counted in the current week through Tuesday
- Long-term Care Facilities: 17 residents and 5 staff in 5 facilities tested positive in the past 2 weeks
- Hospitals: 7 patients hospitalized due to COVID as of 09/12/22; 6 pts on 09/13/22
- Case rate increased to just below “High”: 99.6 cases per 100,000 for the past 7 days on 09.13.22 (100 or more cases per 100K in 7 days is considered High)
- Community weekly positivity: 32.0% for the week ending 09/10/22 (10% is considered High)
- Testing for last week increased by 66% over the previous week. Testing does not include results from at-home tests, which are not included in the case counts and are not required to be reported to the health department.
- Cumulative case total for the health district: 11,240 since March 2020
- Other South Heartland District COVID-19 trends may be found on SHDHD’s COVID-19 dashboard at southheartlandhealth.ne.gov
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