Hastings – Tuesday, July 28 South Heartland District Health Department (SHDHD) officials reported on SHDHD's COVID-19 Risk Dial, which provides a summary of current COVID-19 conditions in the South Heartland District.


"The needle on the risk dial remained at 1.9 this week, which keeps our district at the top of the "moderate" risk level," said SHDHD executive director Michele Bever. "Some factors that contribute to the risk level have improved and others have worsened. Overall, the risk for the entire health district is essentially the same as last week," she said.


Bever said that the weekly positivity rate had decreased to 5.1% from 7.5% the week prior, the ICU availability was improved and the average time from symptom onset to isolation was shorter for the cases reported last week.  However, the number of cases had increased (net increase of 42%) over the previous week and COVID-19 testing availability was lower.


"We also consider compliance with the directed health measures – which was a concern this past week due to large gatherings that had not submitted the required safety plans, as well as gatherings where physical distancing was not followed. There were some positives around mask use, with a few stores putting mask policies in place and some graduation ceremonies where cloth face coverings were required or encouraged, but mask use in general is not widespread," she said.


The levels of risk for COVID-19 spread -- low (green), moderate (yellow), elevated (orange) and severe (red) – are determined using a variety of indicators, including overall positivity rate, weekly positivity rate, trend in number of cases, health system capacity, ability to trace contacts, average number of contacts per case, availability of COVID-19 testing, average length of time for people with symptoms to be isolated, and availability of vaccine. The risk level also takes into account other factors, such as compliance to social distancing requirements and use of face coverings in public settings.


SHDHD continues to encourage key prevention actions to reduce the spread of COVID-19: staying at home if we have any symptoms, even mild symptoms that are consistent with COVID-19;  keeping six feet between ourselves and others; wearing a face covering as a barrier to keep our germs from spreading to others, especially when we are unable to be physically distanced; washing our hands frequently with soap and water; and cleaning and disinfecting any frequently-touched surfaces.


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.

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