The South Heartland Health District saw an uptick last week in laboratory-confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 as a percentage of the total number of tests performed.
Even so, the percentage remains very low, said Michele Bever, executive director of the South Heartland District Health Department.
The “positivity rate” for June 14-20 was 3.3% — up from 0.7% the previous week and around 2% the week before that.
Bever noted that the rate remains in the low single digits, however, after being as high as around 25% in early April.
“I’m not concerned about this small increase, as it can be impacted, in part, by the volume of testing done. Last week there were only 184 total test results reported to us, compared to 546 the week before,” she said.
Five new positive cases were recorded in the four-county health district Saturday through Monday. The new cases include three in Adams County — two children and one woman in her 20s — along with a woman in her 40s and a woman in her 60s in Clay County.
The new cases bring to 318 the total number recorded in the health district since March 18. The running totals by county include 284 in Adams, 27 in Clay, six in Webster and one in Nuckolls.
“We continue to conduct case and contact investigations for individuals who test positive and live in Adams, Clay, Nuckolls or Webster counties,” Bever said. “Through case investigations we know that four of these cases were close contacts of people who tested positive. Cases are isolated and their close contacts are directed to quarantine and self-monitor for symptoms.”
Bever encourages residents to take advantage of another free TestNebraska opportunity in Adams County on June 28 from 8 a.m. to noon on the Adams County Fairgrounds. The schedule of TestNebraska sites is available at testnebraska.com.
To sign up for a free COVID-19 test, register at the website for testnebraska.com.
“We encourage healthcare workers, first responders, anyone who has symptoms consistent with COVID-19, anyone who thinks they were exposed to someone with COVID-19, and anyone with underlying medical conditions to get tested,” Bever said.
Bever noted that 89 of Nebraska’s 93 counties, including the four in the South Heartland health district, entered Phase 3 of the state’s plan for reopening on Monday. Phase 3 includes further relaxation of gathering restrictions.
Neighboring Hall and Hamilton counties, which have been hit harder by the virus than the South Heartland area, entered Phase 2 of reopening on Monday.
“I would like to remind residents that as restrictions on gatherings are loosened in Phase III of reopening, we need to continue to practice social distancing and protect others by wearing masks,” Bever said. “I want to emphasize that taking actions to reduce the spread of this respiratory illness is our new normal. We need to keep the curve flat.”
South Heartland District case counts and trends can be found on SHDHD’s dashboard of local COVID-19 case statistics. This dashboard, along with updates, guidance, news releases and other COVID-19 information and links can be found on the health department’s website: www.southheartlandhealth.org.
The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services provides daily updates to Nebraska’s coronavirus COVID-19 cases on its Data Dashboard at http://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/Coronavirus.
As of Monday evening, Nebraska’s statewide running total of positive COVID-19 cases stood at 17,957, with 249 deaths, NDHHS reported.
A total of 366 new positive cases were confirmed across the state from Saturday through Monday.
Forty-five percent of the state’s hospital beds were available as of Monday, along with 48% of the intensive care beds and 80% of the ventilators, the state agency reported.