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Respiratory illnesses ramping up in 4-county area

Respiratory illnesses ramping up

 

November 10, 2022



Michele Bever, Heartland District Health Department (SHDHD) executive director, reported that COVID-19 trends are rising slightly and another COVID-19 death was logged for the 4-county health district. The death occurred within the past two months and brings the total deaths to 156. Bever reported 26 new cases recorded last week, compared to 30 the week before. This week through Thursday has brought an addition 23 cases. 

The rate of new COVID-19 cases is currently in the “substantial” (orange) level at 55 cases per 100k in the past seven days as of Thursday. In other trends, the health department saw an increase to three long-term care facilities reporting staff or residents testing positive in the past two weeks. There is also an increase in the level of virus measured from samples of wastewater in Hastings ­ currently at moderate levels for the samples tested on Oct. 25. 

“It is concerning that we are seeing a slight uptick in COVID-19 case rates, especially when we have other respiratory illnesses, like influenza (flu) and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) that are beginning to spread locally,” Bever said.  

According to the most recent Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services Flu Report, South Heartland health district is highest in the state for influenza case rates and second highest, after Douglas County, for RSV case rates.  

“Children infected with any of these viruses can get very ill and may need hospitalization. Children also spread these viruses in the community to other people, of all ages, some of whom are more at risk for severe illness because of their underlying health conditions or their age. This is one factor that keeps our community spread at the current levels, and it concerns me as we look ahead to the winter months and the likely arrival of new COVID-19 variants,” she said.  

“Help keep yourself and your family protected by staying up to date on all of your vaccinations,” Bever said. 

In October, the health department started receiving Pfizer COVID-19 booster vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. “This is great news because it means another age group has access to boosters to help protect them and their family members. Getting boosted for COVID-19, getting annual flu vaccinations, and protecting against RSV by practicing good handwashing, cleaning surfaces and keeping children home when they are sick - all of this helps reduce spread of these respiratory viruses and protects against serious illness,” she said. 

The SHDHD flu vaccine webpage, , lists locations in Adams, Clay, Nuckolls and Webster counties where influenza vaccine is available. The flu vaccine webpage includes the hours, how to schedule, whether walk-ins are welcome, insurance billing, and contact information for each clinic or pharmacy. The webpage may be accessed from the health department’s website homepage: southheartlandhealth.ne.gov 

For more information on COVID-19, or for locations offering COVID-19 vaccine or COVID-19 tests, refer to the SHDHD website or call the health department office, 1-877-238-7595.  

COVID-19 dashboard update:

• 26 confirmed COVID-19 cases logged last week compared to 30 the week before 

• 23 confirmed cases counted in the current week through Thursday 

• Long-term care facilities: three facilities with staff and residents testing positive in the past 2 weeks  

• Case rate is “substantial,” 55 cases per 100,000 for the past seven days on Nov. 3 (A case rate of 100 or more per 100,000 in 7 days is considered “high level,” 50-99.99 is “substantial,” 10-49.99 is “moderate” and less than 10 is considered a “low” case rate) 

• Community weekly positivity: decreased to 21 percent for the week ending Oct. 29 (10 percent is considered high)  

• Testing for last week increased by .04 percent over the previous week (104 confirmed test results, up from 100). Testing does not include results from at-home tests, which are not included in the case counts and are not required to be reported to the health department.  

• Cumulative case total for the health district: 11,419 since March 2020 

• Preliminary data in the most current Nebraska Genomic Surveillance Report shows that BA.5 makes up 88 percent of the circulating virus and BA.4.6 makes up 6 percent of the circulating virus. 

• Most current Nebraska Wastewater Surveillance Report shows an increase to “moderate” virus levels for Hastings (samples from Oct. 25, 2022).

• Other South Heartland District COVID-19 trends may be found on SHDHD’s COVID-19 dashboard at southheartlandhealth.ne.gov 

 

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