South Heartland District Health Department

The South Heartland District Health Department saw a total of 30 new laboratory-confirmed positive cases of the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, last week, with a slight increase in test positivity in the general population.

The 30 new cases among district residents were recorded April 18-24 in Adams, Webster, Clay and Nuckolls counties. They include 23 in Adams County, six in Clay County and one in Webster County.

The 14-day average of daily new cases increased to 9.6 per 100,000 and has exceeded the district’s goal of 8 per 100,000 for the 12th day in a row.

Since March 18, 2020, a running total of 4,821 cases of COVID-19 have been recorded among district residents. By county, the new cumulative totals are 3,101 cases in Adams, 760 cases in Clay, 548 cases in Nuckolls, and 412 cases in Webster.

District director Michele Bever also reported on overall positivity — that is, the number of positive tests divided by the number of tests performed during the week.

“If we look only at community testing, the positivity is 10.3%, up slightly from 10% the previous week,” she said. “Our goal is to maintain at or below 5% community positivity, so we are not yet meeting that goal for low spread.”

Overall positivity, which includes testing in long-term care facilities as well as in the general population, increased to 4.2% from 4.1% a week ago. Testing among the long-term care residents and employees turned up zero positive cases last week.

By county, the community positivity is 9.7% in Adams, up from 9.5% the week before; 17.9% in Clay, up from 3.6% the week before; 10% in Webster County, down from 30.4% the week before; and maintaining at zero in Nuckolls County, where 90% of the testing occurred in long-term care facilities.

Bever reported that testing numbers for COVID-19 were down in the district last week, with more than 100 fewer tests administered than during the week of April 11-17.

Vigilance remains necessary to prevent increases local spread of the virus, Bever said.

“The virus is still spreading in our communities,” she said. “We are asking anyone who has any symptoms consistent with COVID-19, to please stay home from work, school and activities and get tested for COVID-19. We need to continue to avoid the three Cs: avoid crowded places, close contact, and confined spaces. Wear a mask in public, keep distanced from others you do not live with, and get your COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you have the opportunity.”

Meanwhile, vaccination totals continue to climb in the health district.

To date, 46% of South Heartland residents eligible for a vaccine (age 16 and up) have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and over 35% of eligible residents have completed their one- or two-dose series and will be considered fully vaccinated 14 days after receiving the final dose. Seventy-four percent of residents age 65 and older are fully vaccinated.

“Our goal is for more than 70% of residents to be vaccinated to provide protection against the spread of the virus in our communities and across the district,” Bever said. “These vaccines are safe and highly effective against severe illness, hospitalization and death caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Help us ‘finish strong’ in South Heartland by practicing prevention and getting your COVID-19 vaccine.”