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South Heartland District Health Department

The South Heartland Health District recorded a total of 13 new cases of the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, Tuesday through Thursday.

The new cases — 12 in Adams County and one in Webster County — bring to 4,422 the total number of cases among district residents since the first was reported on March 18, 2020.

The health district includes Adams, Webster, Clay and Nuckolls counties. To date, Adams County has recorded 2,878 cases of COVID-19, compared to 719 for Clay County, 488 for Nuckolls County and 337 for Webster County.

As of Wednesday, 4,203 of the 4,422 cases among district residents to date had been classified as recovered.

The COVID-19 death toll among district residents stands at 55.

In a news release Thursday night, Michele Bever, the South Heartland District Health Department executive director, said district residents are making progress against COVID-19 but the disease is far from being conquered, so they must keep up their efforts to thwart further spread of the virus and any variants that may arrive in the region.

“We averaged just 4.7 (new) cases per day over the last seven days, which continues to move in the right direction toward low community spread levels,” Bever said. “But we aren’t there yet. This rate equates to an average of 10.4 cases per 100,000, and our goal for low community spread is to reach a level of fewer than eight cases per 100,000 population. We shouldn’t abandon what is working well until we reach and maintain low community spread. What is working well is the combination of all of the tools in our prevention toolbox.”

Given the overall population of the health district — about 45,000 people — the target of fewer than eight new cases per day per 100,000 population equates to fewer than four new cases per day.

“We need to continue to control the level of infection in our communities, which will keep in check the numbers of hospitalizations and deaths due to the COVID-19,” Bever said. “This is particularly important with the threat of COVID-19 infections from new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that have spread to the United States from the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil.”

According to the district’s online data dashboard, a total of 197 first doses and 199 second doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered by the health district or its health care partners Monday through Thursday.

To date, 4,399 district residents have received at least their first dose of vaccine through the health department or partners, and 1,918 have received both doses of the two-dose regimen.

Both vaccines now available — the Pfizer and BioNTech product and the Moderna product — require two doses.

Bever said the vaccination numbers shown on the data dashboard don’t include the district’s long-term care facility residents and staff, who received their shots through a federal pharmacy program for long-term care.

The long-term care vaccinations add another 875 doses that have been administered locally, according to the reports the health department has seen, Bever said.

“Vaccine doses also started coming into our health district last week through the federal retail pharmacy program,” she said. “To promote local coordination of these two separate vaccine efforts, we are working closely with the pharmacies in our area that were selected for the launch of this federal program. Eventually, both programs will be using the same registration and scheduling processes being spearheaded at the state level.”

To register for vaccination, click on the red ribbon at the top of the SHDHD home page at southheartlandhealth.org to get to the most up-to-date information on COVID-19 vaccine. Next, click on the picture of the vaccine to start your vaccine registration in the Nebraska vaccine registration and administration (VRAS) system.

Those needing assistance with registration should contact the Nebraska State Vaccine hotline at 833-998-2275. Individuals 60 and over can contact Midland Area Agency on Aging for assistance at 402-463-4565, ext. 499.

South Heartland currently is working through Phase 1B under the state’s vaccination plan, which calls for vaccination for the general population of senior citizens age 65 and up, plus other adults with high-risk underlying health conditions and certain categories of essential workers.

The work has been hampered this week by extreme winter weather across a broad swath of the United States, which has interfered with vaccine delivery logistics.

“Our vaccination focus continues to be individuals age 65+. Unfortunately, our vaccine shipments of first doses have not arrived this week due to weather disruptions,” Bever said. “Please be patient. We and our partners will begin rescheduling those appointments as soon as we are notified the vaccine has shipped.”

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