Michele Bever

Michele Bever, executive director of the South Heartland District Health Department, speaks during a news conference Feb. 27 about area novel coronavirus planning and prevention. Bever announced April 18 that a woman in her 80s was the first death related to COVID-19 in Adams County.

Adams County’s running tally of confirmed coronavirus disease cases ticked up by four on Thursday, the South Heartland District Health Department announced.

The new cases bring to 213 the total number of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, in the county to date. Clay County’s running tally of 13 cases and Webster County’s tally of five cases remained unchanged on Thursday. The fourth county in the health district, Nuckolls, has yet to see a confirmed positive case.

Thursday’s additional cases bring to 231 the total number of cases reported in the health district since mid-March.

As of Thursday, 144 COVID-19 patients in the South Heartland district had recovered, the health department said. Six patients have died.

The new cases reported Thursday include a female under 20 and three men — one in his 20s, one in his 30s, and one in his 40s.

In a Thursday night news release, Michele Bever, executive director of the South Heartland health department, provided information about testing conducted in Hastings last week by the Nebraska National Guard.

“The test results reported over the past week have included results for individuals tested at a National Guard testing event on April 27-28. This testing event was a resource shared with SHDHD through the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The testing was for health care workers, responders, critical infrastructure personnel and vulnerable or at risk individuals.

“Of the 299 people tested by the National Guard, 32 had positive lab-confirmed COVID-19 test results, a positivity rate of 11% for the event.

Some individuals tested at the event work in the South Heartland District but live outside the health district. If these individuals tested positive, the case numbers are included in their county of residence, not in the county where they work.

“Considering only those individuals who live in the South Heartland District, the rate of positive tests from the National Guard event was 9.8%,” Bever said.

South Heartland continues to conduct contact investigations for individuals who test positive and live in Adams, Clay, Nuckolls or Webster counties. As a reminder, people who test negative on a given day aren’t protected from COVID-19 exposure the following days, so continued practice of social distancing and prevention is necessary.

On Tuesday, Sanford Health, parent company of the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society, which operates Good Samaritan Society-Hastings Village, reported that mass testing had turned up nine additional positive cases of COVID-19 among skilled-nursing residents there, as well as eight cases among employees.

The new positives brought to 12 the total number of skilled-nursing residents who had tested positive as of Tuesday. Four of those residents had died, the company said.

After Tuesday’s announcement raised questions as to the scope of the mass testing on the Hastings campus, Shawn Neisteadt, a spokesman at company headquarters in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, clarified that the testing had included all skilled-nursing facility residents and employees, plus employees of the affordable housing area on the campus commonly known as Good Samaritan Village.

Mass testing refers to everyone in a group of people being tested regardless of whether they have shown signs of illness, and the company wasn’t claiming that all residents and employees at GSV had been tested. Notably, six of the eight employees who tested positive for the disease were asymptomatic.

“The Good Samaritan Society worked with the department of health to determine which areas of the campus should take part in the mass testing,” said Neisteadt, a senior media relations specialist at Sanford Health, in a statement Thursday afternoon.

The Hastings Village provides skilled-nursing services at Perkins Pavilion.

Sanford and the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society, both nonprofits based in Sioux Falls, merged in January 2019.

The Central District Health Department, which serves Hall, Hamilton and Merrick counties, announced confirmation of 16 new positive cases on Thursday, along with two additional deaths.

The district’s total number of positive cases to date now stands at 1,375, including 1,306 in Hall County, 52 in Hamilton County and 17 in Merrick County. The district’s death toll related to COVID-19 stands at 42.

In the Two Rivers Public Health District, which includes seven counties to the west of the Hastings area, 11 new cases were confirmed on Thursday. They include six in Dawson County, three in Buffalo County, one in Franklin County and one in Phelps County.

Franklin County, which is in Tribland, now has recorded six cases to date. Kearney County has recorded seven cases. Harlan County has recorded no cases.

Dawson County, which has been hard hit, accounts for 686 of the district’s 832 total cases. Buffalo County accounts for 113, and Phelps and Gosper counties have recorded 10 cases each.

In the Public Health Solutions Health District, which is east of South Heartland, the case tally to date includes three cases in Fillmore County. Thayer County still has seen no confirmed cases.

As of Thursday evening, the state of Nebraska’s running case total stood at 7,190, with 90 fatalities, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services reported.

In Kansas, a statewide total of 6,144 cases had been reported as of Thursday, with 147 deaths.

Tribland counties in Kansas are Jewell, which has had four confirmed cases; and Smith, which has had two cases.


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