LLCHD COVID-19 Risk Dial rises to high orange

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 LLCHD COVID-19 Risk Dial rose to high orange (High Risk).

This indicates that the risk of the virus spreading and the impact on the community is high and increasing. On the color-coded dial, red represents the highest risk of COVID-19 spread, and green represents the lowest risk.

Health Director Pat Lopez said no cases of the omicron variant have yet been reported in Lancaster County. The variant has been found in about 19 states, including Nebraska, where six cases were reported. Lopez said the Delta variant continues to have the biggest impact on the community. On Friday, December 3, 264 cases were reported in Lancaster County, the highest number of daily cases reported so far in 2021.

“Much of what’s driving the current increases is the aftermath of Thanksgiving gatherings,” Lopez said. “We could see a repeat later this December as more holiday gatherings are planned. We must be mindful of our actions and remember to celebrate safely. In addition to getting vaccinated and wearing masks, it’s important to get tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms, to stay home if you’re sick, to watch your distance from others, and to wash your hands.”

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

The seven-day rolling average of new daily cases was at 127 on November 24 before briefly decreasing due to testing availably around the holiday. The average then increased sharply up to 170 cases on December 4. Almost 75% of the new cases from November 28 through December 4 were under the age of 50 years.

At the end of last week, the positivity rate had reached 14.7%, the highest ever reported in Lancaster County during the COVID-19 pandemic. Positivity rate is an important indicator of spread in the community and shows the risk of transmission is very high.

The seven-day rolling average of COVID-19 patients hospitalized locally had been in the 90s for most of November, but increased to 106 at the end of last week.

The community lost 16 residents to COVID-19 in November, and six residents have died from the virus so far in December. Four of those deaths were reported today.

Lopez said state data shows that Nebraskans who are not fully vaccinated are 10 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19. All Lancaster County residents ages 5 and older are eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccine and booster doses are recommended for adults age 18 and older. People can schedule an appointment at an upcoming clinic at covid19.lincoln.ne.gov. Residents can also find a local pharmacy offering vaccinations at vaccines.gov or by texting their ZIP code to 438829. Those who don’t have online access or need assistance can call 402-441-4200.

About 63% of all Lancaster County residents are now fully vaccinated. Close to 26% of children ages 5 through 11 have now received a first dose, and about 13% are fully vaccinated. About 37% of people age 18 and over have received a booster dose or third dose.

The local Directed Health Measure (DHM) is in effect through 11:59 p.m. Thursday, December 23. The DHM continues to require that all individuals ages two and older – regardless of vaccination status – wear a mask indoors.

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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