Two more Adams County residents have died of the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, and 123 more residents of the South Heartland Health District have been confirmed positive for the presence of the virus in their bodies since Tuesday.
The district health department reported the two deaths and 123 new cases in a news release Thursday night.
Both of the fatalities were men — one in his 70s and the other in his 80s — and both had underlying health conditions, said Michele Bever, health department executive director. Both men’s positive cases had been reported previously in South Heartland COVID-19 statistics.
The health department doesn’t report COVID-19 deaths as such until it receives official notification of the causes of death as listed on death certificates.
The two fatalities reported Thursday night bring to 16 the total number of South Heartland district residents who have succumbed to the novel coronavirus disease, which is caused by infection with the virus. All 16 of the victims lived in Adams County.
Bever expressed her sadness at the men’s deaths and warned district residents to take COVID-19 seriously.
“While some people have moderate symptoms and feel ill for a couple of weeks, others can have severe symptoms that lead to hospitalization or death,” she said. “Many other people may experience very mild, allergy-like symptoms, or no symptoms at all (asymptomatic), and are able to spread the virus to others unknowingly and unintentionally.”
The South Heartland disrtrict this week has exceeded the 1,000 mark in its running total of positive cases of COVID-19 recorded to date.
As of Thursday night, the district’s total number of cases to date stood at 1,061.
The South Heartland district encompasses Adams, Webster, Clay and Nuckolls counties. The district’s first positive case of COVID-19 was announced on March 18.
New cases recorded for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday include 58 in Adams County, 34 in Webster, 20 in Nuckolls and 11 in Clay.
The district recorded a total of 101 new cases for the previous four-day period, Friday through Monday.
To date, the running case totals by county include 758 in Adams County, 139 in Clay, 85 in Nuckolls and 79 in Webster. Numbers reported Thursday reflect a correction made recently to subtract one case from Nuckolls County that was mistakenly counted twice last week.
On Wednesday, the health department announced that the district’s risk dial reading, assessing the likelihood of further spread of the virus, remains in the middle of the “elevated” (orange) zone for this week.
As of Wednesday morning. hospitals in the district were treating a total of 12 patients for COVID-19, with five patients in critical care and three on ventilators.
Meanwhile, 13 school systems across the four-county district were dealing with a combined total of 238 student and staff member absences somehow related to COVID-19. And six long-term care facilities in the district were coping with positive cases among employees and/or residents.
The tally of South Heartland residents who are classified as recovered from COVID-19 stands at at least 563, but that number hasn’t been updated in some time due to health department employees’ increasing workload. South Heartland officials hope to bring that number up to date soon.
Bever used her news release to implore district residents to take precautions and help thwart further spread of the virus.
“We need to change this course,” she said. “If we continue on this path, we can expect our schools, worksites, and health care system to be severely impacted.
“Here’s what you can do to help turn the trend down: avoid crowded places, avoid close contact, and avoid confined spaces. Be vigilant, protect yourselves and others everywhere you go, in everything you do. That includes maintaining 6 feet (of) distance from people you don’t live with and masking up to reduce risk of close contact exposures.”
In other COVID-19 news, the neighboring Two Rivers Public Health Department has recorded a total of 20 new positive cases in Kearney County, six in Franklin County and four in Harlan County since Monday.