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LIVE at 3:30PM: Lincoln COVID-19 Risk Dial goes green, mask mandate to end

The LLCHD reported that the COVID-19 Risk Dial is now at low risk (green).
The LLCHD reported that the COVID-19 Risk Dial is now at low risk (green).(10/11 NOW)
Updated: May. 18, 2021 at 1:10 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird and health officials announced major updates with the COVID-19 Risk dial and mask mandate on Tuesday.

The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department reported that the COVID-19 Risk Dial is now at low risk (green). Green signifies a minimal and controlled level of COVID-19 in Lancaster County, meaning new chains of transmission are limited and quickly broken. At this level, residents may resume normal contact with others unless sick.

The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department reported that the COVID-19 Risk Dial is now at...
The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department reported that the COVID-19 Risk Dial is now at low risk (green).(10/11 NOW)

Officials also stated that the new Directed Health Measure, which goes into effect May 21, does not include a mask requirement. Masks will still be recommended for unvaccinated individuals. Businesses can still require masks, if they wish.

“If you are fully vaccinated, and want to wear you mask in public places, we really encourage you to do so,” said Pat Lopez, LLCHD Health Director.

Lopez encouraged employees of barber shops, hair salons, body art facilities, cosmetologists and massage therapists to wear a mask when working with clients, even when fully vaccinated, due to close contact.

Once again, officials encouraged citizens to get the vaccine.

“Vaccination has played such an important role in getting us to where we are today, but it’s not over yet,” said Lopez. “Together we have achieved a major milestone, and now that we’re at green on our COVID-19 Risk Dial, we want to stay there. If you’re not yet vaccinated, do so as soon as possible...Remember the vaccine does not just protect you, it protects your family, friends and loved ones”

The mayor also announced that the weekly COVID-19 video updates will be coming to an end. The health team will continue to update the COVID-19 Risk Dial and data dashboard. Written updates will be provided every weekday. Televised updates will be scheduled as needed.

The Mayor and Health Director Pat Lopez also announced that the new Directed Health Measure (DHM) that will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday, May 21.

“The people of Lincoln and Lancaster County have demonstrated great resilience and a deep commitment to protecting one another through vaccination and preventive actions,” Mayor Gaylor Baird said. “Because of this, we are able today to reach an historic moment in our community’s pandemic story. These changes would not be possible without the actions of our experienced Health Department team, our tireless medical professionals, our committed community partners, and our caring residents.”

Lopez said those in health care settings, congregate living settings and schools should continue to follow CDC guidance on masks. Fully vaccinated people must also wear masks when required by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws, rules and regulations, including local business and workplace policies. Some businesses and institutions may still require masks as well.

“We also know that people may have different comfort levels when it comes to removing their masks,” Lopez said. “Parents of children under age 12 for instance may choose to continue to wear masks. It’s important for us to be aware of those differing comfort levels and to be understanding. If you are fully vaccinated and want to continue to wear your mask in public places, we encourage you to do so.”

Under the new DHM, all indoor and outdoor spaces will be open to full capacity.

Plans for large outdoor events will no longer be required but events at indoor venues with a capacity of more than 500 people will still require approval from the Health Department.

The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department reported that the COVID-19 Risk Dial is now at...
The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department reported that the COVID-19 Risk Dial is now at low risk (green).(City of Lincoln)

Lab-confirmed cases reported today: 6

Total number of cases: 31,261

Variant cases: The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD) recently confirmed its first case of a COVID-19 variant strain called B.1.1.318, another variant first identified in the U.K. The variant was detected through special testing at the Nebraska Public Health Lab. An additional six variant cases were also identified bringing the total in Lancaster County to 113.

Total number of COVID-19 variant cases in Lancaster County: 113

  • B.1.427/B.1.429 – first identified in California, 10 cases
  • B.1.1.7 – first identified in the U.K., 93 cases
  • B.1.1.318 – first identified in the U.K., 1 case
  • B.1.351 – first identified in South Africa, 3 cases
  • B.1.617 – first identified in India, 6 cases

Deaths reported today: 0

Total number of deaths: 235

Recoveries: 28,811

Weekly positivity rate:

May 6 through 15: 2.7 percent

May 16 through 22: no data

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 positive patients: 20 with 12 from Lancaster County (none on ventilators) and eight from other communities (one on a ventilator).

Vaccinations administered:

Initiated vaccinations (first doses): 165,510

Completed vaccinations (second doses and J&J vaccine): 142,257

This week’s public clinics (subject to change):

  • Monday, May 17, Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department, 31st and “O” streets – first and second doses
  • Tuesday, May 18, “F” Street Community Center, 1225 “F” Street – first and second doses; and Gateway Mall – first-dose drive-through clinic north of the garages of the former Sears store
  • Wednesday, May 19, Gateway Mall – second-dose drive-through clinic north of the garages of the former Sears store
  • Thursday, May 20, Pinnacle Bank Arena – first and second doses
  • Friday, May 21, Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department – first and second doses
  • Saturday, May 22, Gateway Mall – second dose drive-through clinic north of the garages of the former Sears store

Registration: Residents age 12 and older are now eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccine, and appointments are available for this week. Residents can complete the quick and simple registration process and then schedule an appointment to get vaccinated at COVID19.lincoln.ne.gov. Residents who are already in the registration system will be contacted to schedule an appointment.

Those who do not have online access or who need assistance with registration or scheduling may call LLCHD’s COVID-19 hotline at 402-441-8006 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.

Testing: The process begins with a free online risk assessment available at BryanHealth.com, CHIHealth.com or TestNebraska.com.

Residents can also find a local pharmacy offering vaccinations at vaccines.gov.

Drive-through testing is available from:

  • CHI Health St. Elizabeth: Autumn Ridge Family Medicine, 5000 North 26th St. and Southwest Family Health, 1240 Aries Drive. Call either site to schedule an appointment: Autumn Ridge, 402-435-5300 and South West Family, 402-420-1300.
  • Test Nebraska: Gateway Mall, 6100 “O” St., north parking lot of the former Sears store. Tests are conducted from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, call 402-207-9377
  • Testing is also available without an appointment at the three Bryan Urgent Care locations, 7501 S. 27th St., 5901 N. 27th St. and 4333 S. 86th St. To check wait times, call 402-481-6343.

For more information, visit COVID19.lincoln.ne.gov or call the Health Department hotline at 402-441-8006.

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