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LLCHD: Mask Mandate extended two weeks

Cases are falling but hospitalizations remain steady. Lancaster County's mask mandate has been extended for two weeks, ending Feb. 25.
Published: Feb. 8, 2022 at 2:52 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 8, 2022 at 4:18 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Lincoln Lancaster-County Health Officials announced on Tuesday that the mask mandate was extended to Feb. 25. According to Health Director Pat Lopez, this is due to the COVID-19 Risk Dial remaining red and high hospitalizations.

The Lancaster County COVID-19 Risk Dial remains at Severe Risk (red).

“While we’re anxious to put this surge behind us, but right now our hospitals still need our help to relieve the strain they continue to experience. And it’s important not to remove preventative measures too soon, just to lose the ground we’ve gained. Our goal is not to have the Directive Health Measures any longer than we need to.”

According to the CDC from a Feb. 4 study, people who wear a mask indoors are less likely to catch COVID-19.

According to the CDC from a Feb. 4 study, people who wear a mask indoors are less likely to...
According to the CDC from a Feb. 4 study, people who wear a mask indoors are less likely to catch COVID-19.(LLCHD)

While local case numbers and the positivity rate have dropped significantly, much of the data is still higher than it was in December before the surge, and COVID-19 hospitalizations have not yet shown a significant decline. For those reasons, LLCHD reported that the COVID-19 Risk Dial will remain in red position for a sixth consecutive week, indicating that the risk of the virus spreading in the community is severe. On the color-coded dial, red represents the highest risk of COVID-19 spread, and green represents the lowest risk.

The position of the Risk Dial is based on multiple local indicators and information from the previous three weeks:

  • Since the number of new weekly cases peaked near 5,000 the week ending January 15, cases have dropped 70% to 1,437 last week. But the case rate is still higher than it was in December before the surge.
  • The local positivity rate has dropped to 15.9%. While that is the lowest rate since December 25 when it was 11.9%, LLCHD would like to see the rate drop below 10%, indicating reduced transmission of the virus.
  • The number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized locally increased to an average of 137 people per day for the week ending February 5. On February 1, 147 patients were reported, which included 113 Lancaster County residents, the most since the pandemic began. Today, the hospitals report 130 COVID patients, with 99 from Lancaster County.
  • Eight Lancaster County residents have died from COVID-19 so far in February.

All Lancaster County residents ages 5 and older are eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccine. Nearly 66% of all Lancaster County residents are fully vaccinated. Just over 32% of children ages 5 through 11 are now fully vaccinated.

More than 60% percent of residents ages 12 and up have now received a booster or third dose. Local data shows that 90% of the people hospitalized in January with breakthrough COVID-19 infections were eligible for their booster but hadn’t received them yet.

For general information on COVID-19, visit covid19.lincoln.ne.gov or call the Health Department hotline at 402-441-8006.

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