The South Heartland District Health Department recorded seven new positive cases of the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, in its four-county service area Friday through Monday.
The new cases were confirmed through laboratory testing among residents of the South Heartland health district, which encompasses Adams, Webster, Clay and Nuckolls counties.
Six of the new patients are Adams County residents, and the other one lives in Clay County. They include two females under 20, one woman in her 20s, one man in his 30s, one man and one woman in their 40s, and one man in his 50s.
The six new cases bring to 340 the running tally of positive cases recorded in the health district since March 18. Of those, 274 resided in Adams County, 28 in Clay County, seven in Webster County and one in Nuckolls County.
Of the 340 total, 308, or 91%, had recovered as of Monday. The district’s death toll stands at 11.
The South Heartland district’s “positivity rate” — that is, the number of confirmed positive cases as a percentage of the total numbers of COVID-19 tests administered — for the week of June 28 through July 4 was 3.3%. That was up from 2.7% from the previous week but equal to the rate for the week before that.
Prior to that time period, the rate had dipped to 0.7% for a week after hovering around 2% for two consecutive weeks in late May and into early June.
A total of 21 hospitalizations related to the viral infection have been recorded for the health district since March. No new hospitalizations have been recorded since May 29, however.
In a news release Monday night, Michele Bever, executive director of the South Heartland health department, said the 33 active COVID-19 cases now in the district have been investigated to identify “close contacts” — a step that is taken so people who may have been exposed to the virus can take appropriate precautions.
Altogether, more than 200 close contacts were identified in connection with the 33 patients, and all those individuals now are in quarantine and monitoring for symptoms, Bever said.
“The health department’s case investigations are finding that close contacts are often associated with exposures at gatherings where people are not consistently practicing social distancing or wearing masks,” Bever said. “So, the virus is continuing to spread in our communities by these associations.”
She warned that the threat of additional spread of the virus is growing as larger gatherings are allowed to occur within the health district as part of the phased “reopening” now taking place all across Nebraska.
“As the restrictions on gatherings have been lifted and larger gatherings allowed by the state-directed health measures, the potential for large numbers of close contacts increases,” Bever said. “This is a growing issue if people are not wearing masks or practicing social distancing at these larger gatherings. The actions people are (or are not) taking now will impact whether restrictions will need to continue to be in place later. Let’s learn from other states and keep the curve flat here in South Heartland’s counties.”
Across Nebraska, the running tally of confirmed positive COVID-19 cases broke the 20,000 mark on Monday, with 117 new cases reported.
According to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, the statewide running tally stood at 20,046 as of Monday evening, with 283 deaths. The number of new cases recorded Friday through Monday totaled 594.
NDHHS statistics as of Monday showed 42% of the state’s total number of hospital beds, 49% of its intensive care beds and 81% of its ventilators were available should patients need them.
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 health department’s website: www.southheartlandhealth.org.
The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services provides daily updates to Nebraska’s coronavirus COVID-19 cases on its Data Dashboard at http://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/Coronavirus.