The South Heartland Health District recorded a combined total of 169 new cases of the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, in residents Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
The case tally update was provided in a news release from the district health department Thursday night.
The additional cases pushed beyond the 2,000 mark the running tally of COVID-19 cases confirmed in the four-county health district since March 18. As of Thursday night, the case tally to date stood at 2,031.
To date, the district has recorded 1,380 cases in Adams County along with 299 in Clay, 194 in Nuckolls and 158 in Webster. New cases for Tuesday through Thursday include 130 in Adams County, 24 in Clay, nine in Nuckolls and six in Webster
While Adams County has by far the largest population of the four counties and by far the largest number of cases among residents to date, that number as a percentage of the county’s total population — 3.8% — actually is the smallest of the four.
In Nuckolls County, the total number of positive cases to date equals 4.36% of the population. The percentages are 4.35 in Clay and 4.27 in Webster.
As of Thursday, 24 health district residents had died of COVID-19, the disease that results from infection with the virus.
A total of 81 district residents had spent time in a hospital for treatment of the disease.
More than 725 COVID-19 cases in the district had been classified as recovered as of Oct. 16, the last time that particular number was updated.
The South Heartland district’s risk dial reading for this week stands at 3.0, on the line between the orange (elevated) and red (severe) risk zones. The district’s test positivity rate for Nov. 1-7 was 15.5%, indicating widespread community transmission of the virus.
In Thursday night’s news release, Michele Bever, South Heartland executive director, said the health department is struggling to keep up with the increased volume of new positive tests being reported daily.
“South Heartland has been partnering with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services to expand our disease investigation team,” she said. “However, even with these extra human resources, we are not always able to meet our goal of completing contact investigations within 24 hours of receiving the positive test results.”
Bever encouraged basic COVID-prevention practices for anyone who has symptoms.
“First, if you have symptoms, self-isolate right away and get tested for COVID-19,” she said. “While you are awaiting results, you should self-isolate to protect your friends, co-workers, and loved ones from getting sick, too. Self-isolating means avoiding all contact with other people and staying in a part of your house separate from everyone you live with.”
Bever said when people are tested for COVID-19, they almost always receive their test results before the health department does.
“If your test result is positive, you should continue isolating for 10 days after the day your symptoms first appeared,” she said. “Also, make sure that the people you live with self-quarantine. This reduces the chance they will spread the disease if they are infected, but not yet sick or symptomatic. Self-quarantine means staying home, monitoring for symptoms and staying at least 6 feet away from others.”
Bever has been promoting the state’s guidance to “avoid the three Cs” to thwart additional spread of the virus in the community.
The “three Cs” are crowded places, close contact, and confined spaces with poor ventilation.
The district also is promoting use of face coverings and social distancing.
“It is up to each of us to protect others and ourselves everywhere we go, in everything we do,” Bever said.
In other area COVID-19 news, Kearney County recorded 18 new cases, Franklin County 14 and Harlan eight for Monday through Wednesday, the Two Rivers Public Health District reported.
Two Rivers also includes Buffalo, Dawson, Gosper and Phelps counties.