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Mask Mandate Extended — Risk Dial Remains “Moderate”

Lincoln, NE (October 26, 2021)  Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird began her weekly briefing on the Covid 19 virus by relating the story of a football player.  A broken arm with bones protruding from an arm, she said, had to wait 16 hours for surgery.  It was because of the combined load of Covid and regular patients, she said.  The Mayor said those who do not get vaccinated are helping put pressure on local hospital capacity.

Health Director Pat Lopez echoed the appeal, saying the September decline of cases has leveled off in October, with an average of about 80 cases per day.  Lopez said she would like to see case numbers drop to 40 to 45 cases per day.  The positivity rate of tests, she said, has also flattened at 9 to 10%. “We want to see a positivity rate down in the range of 5-7%, to show that the risk of spread if reduced.”

Local Hospital capacity is also a “serious concern” according to Lopez.  “We need to bring the number of cases down so that medical professionals can take care of normal patients quickly.”

Lopez said many of the indicators driving the position of the risk dial have remained steady the past few weeks, leading to the dial remaining in the high yellow category.

“We will be extending the directed health measure to Wednesday, November 24” said Lopez.  She said we are in a better position than we were in a month ago, but the community needs to exercise caution and not remove measures too fast.  The directed health measure requires masks be worn inside all public buildings.

“We understand people are getting tired, and pandemic fatigue are real” said Lopez, adding ” We need to continue to push those numbers down, however.”

Lopez said the community has hit a milestone with 75 percent of Lancaster County residents, 16 and over, now fully vaccinated. The next milestone, she said, is to have 75 percent of all residents vaccinated.  That figure now stands at around 60%.


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