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South Heartland District Health Department

Of a total of 310 patients in Adams, Webster, Clay and Nuckolls counties who have been confirmed positive for the novel coronavirus disease since March 18, 283 already have been declared to be recovered.

Those statistics arise out of the latest reports from the South Heartland District Health Department concerning the disease, a viral infection known in shorthand as COVID-19.

One additional case of the infection has been confirmed by a laboratory since Tuesday, South Heartland reported Thursday evening in a news release and through the recently launched statistics dashboard posted to its website, southheartlandhealth.org.

The single new case involves a Webster County resident and brings to six the number of cases recorded in that county. Adams County has recorded 279 cases; Clay County, 24; and Nuckolls County, one.

All five of the other Webster County patients and the single Nuckolls County patient already have recovered. Two hundred fifty-five patients in Adams County and 22 in Clay County also have recovered, for a districtwide recovery rate to date of 88%.

South Heartland’s dashboard shows 21 district residents have been hospitalized for COVID-19 and 11 have died after battling the disease. All 11 fatalities have been Adams County residents.

Districtwide to date, 51.8% of COVID-19 patients have been female and 48.2% have been male. Hispanic/Latino individuals have accounted for 46.6% of the total case tally, while 53.6% have been non-Hispanic/Latino.

Individuals age 20-29 account for a plurality of the district’s cases so far, making up 18.8% of the total compared to 3.2% among children from birth through age 9, 6.1% ages 10-19, 16.2% in their 30s, 18.1% in their 40s, 15.2% in their 50s, 13.3% in their 60s, 4.9% in their 70s, 3.2% in their 80s and 1% in their 90s. No age group is immune to the virus, although the elderly and individuals with underlying health conditions are understood to be most prone to becoming seriously ill.

According to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, the statewide total number of positive cases to date increased Thursday to 16,315, with 212 fatalities. Of that number, 9,229 patients had recovered.

The number of new cases across the state on Thursday, 290, was the largest daily number of new cases since May 29 when 393 were announced.

Statewide, 42% of hospital beds and 45% of intensive care unit beds were available Thursday — along with 75% of ventilators, which often are needed for the most seriously ill COVID-19 patients.

As of June 5, Mary Lanning Healthcare in Hastings, the largest of three hospitals in the South Heartland district, had only one COVID-19 patient admitted.

In a news release Thursday evening, Michele Bever, South Heartland health department executive director, said that while the four-county district has had encouraging news to report on the virus in recent days, that could change, depending in part on the choices area residents make in the days and weeks ahead.

“New cases are frequently traced back to gatherings or interactions where people are not keeping physical distance or wearing masks,” Bever said. “This is happening in social settings and at worksites. Everyone has a right to a safe work environment. We especially encourage worksites to do everything they can to provide a safe environment for their employees and their patrons.”

She recommends that employers take care to protect their workers from illness and their organizations from the disruption that would come from an outbreak of the illness.

“If someone tests positive at a worksite, everyone who is a close contact will need to be quarantined,” Bever said. “However, if your worksite has physical distancing measures in place and employees are wearing masks, the exposure to the positive case may be considered low risk, and the employees may not need to be quarantined. It is an advantage for the health and safety of your employees and for your staffing needs to do what you can to reduce the chances of your employees being exposed and needing to be quarantined. It reduces the impact on your business to have these things in place BEFORE you need them.”

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