New death from COVID-19 reported by South Heartland Health
HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - South Heartland District Health Department (SHDHD) executive director Michele Bever, reported another COVID-19 death and wastewater levels of the virus that causes COVID-19 remain very high. Rising influenza cases doubled over a two-week reporting period in the four-county health district.
Bever said the death occurred within the past two months and brings the total South Heartland deaths attributed to COVID-19 to 157 since the beginning of the pandemic. SHDHD does not report deaths until the department receives death certificate COVID-19 confirmation from Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (NE DHHS).
Bever also reported the rate of confirmed COVID positive tests has dropped to 53 per 100,000, down from a recent peak of 314 per 100,000 in early December. These numbers do not include at-home test results, which are not reported to the health department.
COVID-19 measured in wastewater had remained at very high levels through 12/12/22, the most current report for samples collected in Hastings. Monitoring virus in wastewater is one way to check community levels of the virus that causes COVID-19.
Hospitalizations for respiratory illness have declined over the past two weeks. Currently, about one-third of the respiratory illness hospitalizations are patients with COVID-19 and one-third are patients with influenza and one-third are patients hospitalized for other respiratory illnesses, including respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and rhino/enterovirus.
Influenza case rates are rising in South Heartland counties and across the state. The most recent Weekly Influenza (Flu) Report posted by Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services for the week ending 12/17/22, showed South Heartland influenza case rate that week had increased to 186 per 100,000, two times higher than two weeks prior. Meanwhile, South Heartland’s RSV case rates had declined about eight percent over two weeks to 28.5 per 100,000.
“What the case rates, wastewater and hospitalization results tell us is that there continues to be community transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19, as well as influenza and other respiratory illnesses. Prevention is our best bet to reduce our risk of getting infected and getting very sick or needing hospitalization,” Bever said.
“Our health department team’s wish for the new year is that residents are able to live their lives, uninterrupted. Take care of yourselves and your loved ones - - help keep yourself and your family protected by practicing good hygiene and staying home when you are sick to reduce the spread of any of these respiratory illnesses. Most important of all, stay up-to-date on all of your vaccinations to reduce the spread of preventable illnesses,” she said.
With the arrival of the new year, SHDHD will be making changes to the SHDHD COVID-19 dashboard. “Due to staffing and funding constraints, we will be scaling back our COVID-19 data analysis activities,” Bever said. Residents can expect a smaller dashboard and updates on a weekly basis beginning the first week in January 2023.
For more information on COVID-19, or for locations offering COVID-19 vaccine, COVID-19 tests or influenza vaccine, refer to the SHDHD website, southheartlandhealth.ne.gov, or call the health department office, 1-877-238-7595.
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