COVID-19 Risk Dial lowers to Yellow (Moderate Risk)
LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Officials updated the community on the City’s efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus at a briefing on Tuesday.
The COVID-19 Risk Dial has lowered to Moderate Risk (Yellow). According to Health Director Pat Lopez, this is first time we’ve been in yellow since the week of Aug. 10.
Health Director Lopez said the number of new COVID-19 cases began to drop shortly after the indoor mask requirement was implemented Aug. 26. The daily case average has decreased 46% from the peak of 139 cases per day on Aug. 29, to 75 cases on Oct. 7.
Lopez also compared the Lancaster County data with Douglas County case numbers. From the week ending September 4 until the week ending Oct. 2, local weekly cases dropped 43%, from 1,024 to 589. Over the same period, Douglas County cases dropped 20%, from 1,406 to 1,119.
The position of the Risk Dial is based on multiple local indicators and information from the previous three weeks.
Twelve local residents have died from COVID-19 in October. Eight were unvaccinated and four were vaccinated.
The number of Lancaster County residents hospitalized with COVID-19 has dropped, but the number from outside the county has increased, so the seven-day rolling average of hospitalizations has stayed steady at about 100 patients for the past month. Today, 98 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized locally, with 19 on ventilators.
The community positivity rate has dropped from about 11% at the beginning of September to about 8.5% at the end of last week.
In Lancaster County, 74.4% of residents ages 16 and over are fully vaccinated. For all 319,000 County residents, 60% are fully vaccinated. Some of those who are still unvaccinated are not yet eligible like children under 12, but there are still about 66,000 residents who are eligible for COVID-19 vaccine but have not yet received it.
Director Lopez noted her excitement for the FDA’s examination of the Pfizer vaccine for children, which will be on Oct. 26. Dr. Sian Jones-Jobst, Pediatrician and President of Complete Children’s Health in Lincoln, spoke about the various questions and processes that the FDA committee will put the vaccine through before either recommending, or not recommending, the children’s vaccine.
According to Director Lopez, the compliance to the mask mandate has been rather positive, with only a few outliers or incidents. Director Lopez noted that areas without the mandate have been affected by a greater uptick of cases, taking away beds in urgent care from other patients who need it for non-COVID related issues.
“You know, if I could say one thing, this is really a health issue,” said Director Lopez. “The vaccination does work, and it helps us, and it’s what we need to do to get us moved forward. I want my loved ones to be able to access care if they need it, in our community where we are. I don’t want to be worried that we won’t have a hospital bed ready for them. And I don’t want to see our hospitals and nurses taxed to the breaking point.”
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