Hastings – Today South Heartland District Health Department (SHDHD) officials reported 201 lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in the past four days (Friday – Monday), bringing the cumulative number of cases in the four-county health district to 2,231. The new confirmed cases for the four-day period include: 128 in Adams, 39 in Clay, 20 in Nuckolls and 14 in Webster. By county, the new cumulative totals are: 1,507 cases in Adams, 338 cases in Clay, 214 cases in Nuckolls, and 172 cases in Webster.
SHDHD executive director Michele Bever also reported the department had received 393 positive lab reports for the week ending November 14, an average of 56 positive tests per day. The positivity (percent positive tests) was 17.5%, up from 15.5% the previous week. By county, the positivity was 17% in Adams, 16.7% in Clay, 16% in Nuckolls and 32.7% in Webster. Bever said positivity less than 5% indicates low community spread of the virus, while positivity above 15% indicates severe community spread.
Bever said she is very concerned about the explosion in COVID-19 cases in the health district and the impact it is having on the workforce. "Many sectors are experiencing workforce issues due to COVID-19. The increase in patients needing hospital care is straining our hospitals and their healthcare workforce, regionally and across the state," she said.
"The public health workforce is struggling, too. Neither our staff nor the state contact tracing teams are able to consistently provide timely follow up due to the huge load of case investigations and contract tracings," she said. "And, many of the first responder organizations, long-term care facilities, schools, and service organizations in our district are also experiencing staff shortages due to COVID illness and exposures."
"This is unacceptable," Bever said. "We need to take care of our local people in our local communities. We need to take action now to help keep our workforce healthy so that all of these organizations can stay open and provide care and services."
"The SHDHD Board of Health and staff are urging South Heartland residents at all worksites, faith-based institutions, health care, government and educational settings; at retail businesses, salons, restaurants and bars; at sporting, civic and social events; and in meetings or gatherings small and large, formal or informal, family or professional; to practice prevention, including to Avoid the Three Cs: avoid crowded places, avoid close contact and avoid confined spaces. Keep physically distanced when you are with others you do not live with and wear masks to protect others and yourselves, everywhere you go," she said. "This will need to be a community effort – let's do it together."
South Heartland District case counts and trends can be found on SHDHD's dashboard of local COVID-19 case statistics. This dashboard, along with updates, guidance, news releases and other COVID-19 information and links can be found on the SHDHD website: www.southheartlandhealth.org. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) provides daily updates to Nebraska's coronavirus COVID-19 cases on their Data Dashboard at http://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/Coronavirus.