COVID-19 Risk dial lowers, remains on high-risk

(10/11 NOW)
Published: Jul. 31, 2020 at 1:46 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird and health officials updated the community on the City’s efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus at a briefing on Friday.

The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department announced on Friday that 29 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Lincoln, bringing the community total to 3,021. The number of deaths in the community remains at 15. The total number of recoveries has risen to 1,279.

The COVID-19 Risk Dial has lowered from the mid-high (orange) risk to low-high (orange) risk.

The position of the Risk Dial is based on multiple local indicators and information from the previous three weeks.  More information on the metrics used by LLCHD is now posted online just below the Dial.  The LLCHD updated five of the key factors they consider:

Case numbers.  The seven-day rolling average increased from about 30 cases a day at the beginning of July to about 50 last week.  The average number of new cases per day this week has averaged 46, indicating that the trend may be flattening.  LLCHD expects the total number of cases to be about 300, a decline from the 331 and 362 cases reported in the last two weeks..

Positivity rate.  The weekly positivity rate has been on the rise from an average of 4.8 percent in June to an average of 7.3 percent in July – an increase of 52 percent. The overall rate remains at 6.8 percent today.

Contact tracing capacity.  LLCHD currently has more than sufficient capacity to do investigations, and is able to keep pace with demand. Nursing staff initiates contact tracing and attempts to reach out to close contacts of positive cases within 24 hours of receiving the lab result.  Lopez said the turn-around time to receive test results has fluctuated from week to week depending on the regional and national demand for testing.  She said delays in receiving lab results impacts the ability to provide education to those who have tested positive and delays the start of contact tracing, which is important in identifying clusters and stopping outbreaks. Lopez said that at the end of last week, about 75 percent of testing results were received within two to three days.

Hospital capacity.  Lincoln hospitals have about 55 percent of their ICU beds available and about 90 percent of their ventilators available. There are 19 COVID-19 patients in our local hospitals today. 

Testing capacity. Since the beginning of this pandemic, 44,599 individuals have now been tested for COVID-19 in Lancaster County. (Each individual counts as one test, no matter how many times they are tested.)   Bryan Health and CHI Health St. Elizabeth both have capacity to do more testing at their drive-through testing sites.  Test Nebraska has expanded testing to six days a week, and is moving from North Star High School to Gateway Mall starting Saturday, August 1.   Appointments are required for testing, and the process begins at,, and

“Our Health Department was one of the first in the nation to create a tool like our local COVID-19 risk dial,” said Mayor Gaylor Baird. “Throughout the pandemic, and again today, we’ve outlined the multiple measures, data, and local conditions used to determine the position of the dial each week. We believe the risk dial provides the most robust description of local risk of the spread of COVID-19 for our community.”

Copyright 2020 KOLN. All rights reserved.

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