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Health Director: Covid Dial Close To Moving Up Again

City-County Health Director Pat Lopez

Lincoln, NE (July 20, 2021)  Lincoln’s Covid 19 Risk Dial is still in the green zone, but is on the verge of moving up to yellow because of the recent spread of cases and the increase in hospitalizations.  After nearly a month without deaths, Lincoln has had four in the past ten days.

Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird said Tuesday that the Delta Variant is the fastest spreading and most often noted source of Covid 19 infection in Lincoln and Lancaster County recently, as it is in the rest of the country.

Health Director Pat Lopez said the 7 day rolling average has gone from 6 cases per day in mid June to 21 currently. Several recent days have shown larger spikes, however.  33 were reported today, 40 yesterday, and 44 this past Saturday.  The positivity rate has increased from 2 percent at the end of June to 5 percent currently.  “It’s not as high as the ten percent we saw in January’, she said, but adding “it can quickly become that way.”

Lopez said individual cases can quickly become outbreaks.  She used the example of a day camp in which one case infected several others, each of those spread the virus to others, resulting in one known death.

Lopez said evidence shows that vaccination can help prevent the virus from infecting a person, and a person who is vaccinated is less likely to require hospitalization if they are infected.

Hospitalizations are also increasing rapidly, Lopez said.  “We have experienced an increase in hospitalizations in addition to cases” she said.  9 people were hospitalized at the end of June, she said, and 40 are currently.  “We haven’t see this many in hospitals since the end of February” she said.

“It’s very sobering to be here” said Dr. Kevin Reichmuth, a Lincoln pulmonologist.  “We’re going in the wrong direction”.  Reichmuth speculated that many unvaccinated people have assumed that cases are going down, and that they would no longer need to get the shots.  “Our patients that are getting admitted are largely unvaccinated” he said.  “Nationally, 90 plus percent of those being admitted are unvaccinated.”  It’s unquestionable, said, that vaccinations are highly effective in preventing the disease.

“It’s heartbreaking when you see that all of this was completely preventable” Reichmuth said.

Health Director Pat Lopez urged everyone able to get vaccinated as soon as possible, including those who have already had Covid.  “Even if you have had Covid-19, you may not be protected against the Delta variant.

A schedule of vaccination clinics can be found on the Health Department’s website.

Vaccinations:  Progress in our COVID-19 vaccination efforts positively impacts our community. The more people who are vaccinated, the less opportunity the virus and its variants will have to spread. COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective. It provides protection against the virus, prevents severe illness and saves lives. Residents age 12 and older are now eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccine, and appointments are available for this week. Residents can sign up and schedule a vaccination appointment 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 do not have online access or who need assistance with registration or scheduling may call the LLCHD COVID-19 hotline at 402-441-8006 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.

 

Upcoming vaccination clinics (subject to change; walk-ins welcome at all locations):

  • Wednesday, July 21, Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department, 3131 “O” St. – first and second doses
  • Thursday, July 22, First United Methodist Church, 2723 N. 50th St. – first and second doses
  • Friday, July 23, Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department – first and second doses

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