Risk dial moves up in South Heartland District

The risk dial for South Heartland now at 3.3 out of four.
The risk dial for South Heartland now at 3.3 out of four.(KSNB)
Published: Nov. 19, 2020 at 10:09 AM CST
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - Increased indications of community spread of COVID-19 cases has led to the South Heartland District Health Department to increase the level of their risk dial. The dial indicator is now at 3.3 out of a possible four. It had been at 3.0 the previous week. This moves the dial further into the “severe” category, the highest risk level on the dial, also identified as the red level. Other levels are low (green), moderate (yellow) and elevated (orange).

South Heartland executive director Michele Bever cited a number of statistics that moved the dial up, including 393 positive COVID-19 tests for the week ending November 14, which is a 47 percent net increase over the previous week. That is an average of 56 positive tests per day. Also up from the previous week was the percentage of positive tests, which was 17.5 percent compared to 15.5 percent the previous week.

“This is considered severe community spread,” Bever said. “Please help protect the community health and safety services, schools, childcare and long-term care facilities by taking steps to reduce the spread of this virus, everywhere you go.”

More explanations of the various levels of the risk dial and actions that should be taken can be found on the South Heartland District web site.

The South Heartland officials also provided a number of updates on the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on various institutions in the four-county area they serve.

As of Wednesday, they say 13 school districts in Adams, Clay, Nuckolls and Webster counties are affected by COVID-19. In those schools, 28 students and 13 staff members are in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19. They are part of nearly 300 out from their Pre K-through 12 schools.

There are nine child care services or centers with staff, children or both who have tested positive in the past two weeks.

“It is a huge hardship on parents when schools and child care services are unavailable’” Bever said. “We continue to urge staff, families and community members to follow best practices to prevent COVID spread so that schools and childcare services may remain open.”

Healthcare facilities are seeing the increased numbers as well. Bever reported 14 long-term care facilities in the district have staff, residents or both that have tested positive in the past two weeks.

At hospitals, 23 patients are being cared for with COVID-19, eight are in intensive care, six requiring critical care and two on ventilators.

The health district also passed along information on the impact of the pandemic on emergency services.

According to Hastings Fire and Rescue Chief Brad Starling, the increase in COVID-19 cases is increasing their call volume and is impacting the number of personnel available to respond to calls.

“Combined, these factors impact HFR’s ability to provide a timely response in our home jurisdiction and our ability to provide assistance to our neighboring communities.”

Bever said some rural volunteer emergency medical services in Adams, Clay, Nuckolls and Webster Counties were also reporting staff shortages due to ill or exposed staff.

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