South Heartland District Health Department

The South Heartland Health District saw a bump in its risk dial reading for this week assessing danger related to further community spread of the novel coronavirus.

The district’s risk dial reading increased from 1.7 to 1.8 when the risk dial received its weekly update on Wednesday, said Michele Bever, district health department executive director, in a news release Wednesday evening.

The four-county health district includes Adams, Webster, Clay and Nuckolls counties. Infections with the novel coronavirus cause the disease known as COVID-19.

This week’s reading remains in the dial’s yellow (moderate risk) zone, which encompasses values from 1-2. Other zones on the risk dial include green (low risk, zero to 1), orange (elevated risk, 2-3) and red (severe risk, 3-4).

In her news release, Bever noted recent increases in average numbers of daily new cases and in test positivity rates in the health district.

The number of new laboratory-confirmed positive cases increased to an average of 4.1 per day compared to 3.4 per day the previous week.

Overall positivity increased to 4.1%, up from 3.1% the previous week. General community positivity (excluding nursing home residents and staff) increased to 10%, up from 9.4% the previous week.

The positivity rate for a given week is the number of positive tests coming back from the laboratory as a percentage of the total number of COVID-19 tests administered during that week.

“As a reminder, our goal is for community positivity to be sustained at or below 5%,” Bever said.

Required testing at area long-term care facilities turned up no new cases of COVID-19 last week, she said.

With the health district still in moderate risk for spread of COVID-19, the health department continues to promote public health precautions as well as vaccination.

“We are encouraging residents in the eligible age groups to register for a COVID-19 vaccine and get their shots,” Bever said. “Vaccination and practicing prevention are important for reducing virus spread and keeping our communities from seeing another surge in cases.”

To date, 45% of South Heartland residents eligible for a vaccine (in Nebraska, those age 16 and up) have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 32% of eligible residents have completed their one- or two-dose series and will be considered fully vaccinated 14 days after receiving the final dose.

“Our residents age 65-plus are doing a great job, with 67% of this age group fully vaccinated and another 5% that have received their first dose,” Bever said. “Those in younger age groups are lagging behind, in part because they became eligible for vaccine more recently. We are encouraging them to make appointments to get their shots.”