HASTINGS – Today South Heartland District Health Department (SHDHD) executive director Michele Bever reported on current COVID-19 conditions in the South Heartland District. The district COVID-19 risk summary score moved from 2.5 to 2.6, continuing at "elevated" risk (orange). 


For the week ending October 17, SHDHD's test positivity was 17.1%. "Of note, we had 219 positive tests reported to the health department last week, which was an 46% net increase in positive cases compared to the week before and the tenth week in a row with more cases than the previous week," Bever said. The department has already received 134 positive reports for the current week.  


As of Wednesday morning, there were eleven (11) patients being cared for in South Heartland hospitals due to COVID-19, two (2) requiring critical care and one (1) ventilator in use.  Bever said SHDHD updated hospitalization counts on the dashboard for a new cumulative total of 55 residents reported needing hospital care due to COVID since the beginning of the outbreak in March. 


There were twelve school districts in Adams, Clay, Nuckolls and Webster counties affected by COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Overall, there were more than 250 students and staff out from PreK-12 schools including fifty-four (54) individuals (40 students, 14 staff) in isolation due to testing positive for COVID-19 and over 200 students and staff in quarantine due to exposure to COVID-19. 


Bever stated that the Governor's new directed health measures (DHM), effective Wednesday morning at 12:00 AM, were adding back some restrictions to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. The changes include a reduction to 50% of the allowed capacity for indoor events and parties/groups limited to eight (8) people. "The DHM restrictions emphasize the need to reduce our social interactions so that we limit the spread of the virus from person to person," Bever said.  


Bever encouraged residents to protect others and themselves wherever they are, including maintaining six feet of distance from people you don't live with and masking up to reduce risk of close contact exposures. "We need to reverse the current COVID-19 trends by avoiding the three Cs: avoid Crowded places, avoid Close contact and avoid Confined spaces," she said. 


While some people have moderate COVID-19 symptoms and feel ill for a couple of weeks, and others have severe symptoms and require hospitalization, many people can have very mild, allergy-like symptoms, or no symptoms at all (asymptomatic), and are able to spread the virus to others unknowingly and unintentionally.  


"This is how the virus that causes COVID-19 spreads and it is circulating widely in our district," Bever said. "It is up to each of us to take steps to block the spread of the virus so that we protect our families, our worksites, our schools, our long-term care centers, our hospitals, and our entire community." 


The levels of risk for COVID-19 spread are indicated on the risk dial as low (0-1.0, green), moderate (1.0-2.0, yellow), elevated (2.0-3.0, orange) and severe (3.0-4.0, red).  The COVID Risk Dial & Community Guidance can be found on SHDHD webpages at www.southheartlandhealth.org. 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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