Michele Bever (copy)

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.

The South Heartland District Health Department announced Monday night that four new positive cases of the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, had been confirmed by laboratories in the four-county district since Friday.

While every case of COVID-19 is unwelcome and potentially serious, that means an average of just one new case per day was confirmed over the four-day period in Adams, Webster, Clay and Nuckolls counties combined.

The new patients — all Adams County residents — include one child, a woman in her 20s, a woman in her 40s, and a man in his 50s, South Heartland said in a news release.

The new cases bring the running total for the four-county area to 304 — 274 in Adams County, 24 in Clay County, five in Webster County and one in Nuckolls County.

As of May 28, 228 of the patients had recovered. The district’s death toll stands at 11, with all victims having lived in Adams County

South Heartland Executive Director Michele Bever also reported the health district’s percent positive test indicator dropped by more than half for the week of May 24-30.

“The rate of positive COVID-19 lab results reported to the department last week was 2.6%, down from 6.4% the previous week,” she said.

Testing activities in the district last week included a total of 397 specimens collected May 26-27 by Nebraska National Guard personnel in Hastings and Clay Center through the state’s TestNebraska initiative.

Bever said the health department remains hard at work trying to identify potential exposures associated with every new COVID-19 diagnosis.

“We continue to conduct contact investigations for individuals who test positive and live in Adams, Clay, Nuckolls or Webster counties,” she said. “Anyone who has symptoms should self-isolate and we direct close contacts to quarantine and self-monitor for symptoms.”

Meanwhile, freshly revised directed health measures issued by the state for South Heartland counties went into effect Monday morning. Bever said the changes allow for expanded gathering sizes, allow additional businesses to open, and permit a number of other activities to begin.

Precautionary requirements and recommendations abound, however.

The revised state DHM for South Heartland counties may be viewed on the South Heartland website www.southheartlandhealth.org.

“There are also guidance documents prepared by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services to help businesses and event planners consider the requirements of the DHM as they develop their event plans or plan how to reopen in ways that protect their staff and their patrons,” Bever said.

Minimizing in-person contact remains a key theme in the June directed health measure, also known as Phase 2 of reopening, Bever said, since such interaction is the main means of transmitting the dangerous virus.

“The requirements of the DHM and the recommendations in the guidance documents emphasize that social/physical distancing and prevention practices need to be continued as the restrictions are lifted,” she said.

South Heartland District case counts by county are updated daily on SHDHD’s COVID webpage: https://southheartlandhealth.org/public-health-data/corona-virus.html. 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.

As of Monday, Nebraska’s statewide running tally of positive COVID-19 cases stands at 14,345, with 178 fatalities.

Kansas’s statewide case tally stands at 10,011, with 217 deaths.

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