Mayor:  Lincoln Doing A Good Job Against Covid-19.  Health Director:  Watching Closely

Lincoln, NE (April 13, 2021)  Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird said today that Lancaster County is number one among all 19 of the State’s Public Health Districts in completing Covid-19 vaccinations. And, she says, the County has lowest number of cases per 100,000 residents of all the districts.

In the same briefing, Health Director Pat Lopez said data is continually monitored for changes, particularly a recent uptick in hospitalizations for the virus.

The number of average weekly cases, and the 7 day rolling average of cases, have fluctuated little in recent weeks, according to Lopez.  The positivity rate of Covid-19 tests has also remained fairly steady over the same period, she said.  Hospitalizations have also improved greatly, she said over the past few months.  The 7 day rolling average dropped from 70 at the end of January to 13 at the end of March.  However, she said, since then the statistic has become a concern.

“The average was back up near 22 last week.  This is concerning because we are watching this data closely to better understand the demographic of these hospitalizations.  Today we are reporting 27.”

The discontinuance of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine will not cause a significant slowdown in Lancaster County’s vaccination program, according to Lopez.

“We haven’t received that much Johnson and Johnson in Lancaster County” she said.  “We’d received 3,o0o doses previously, and another number of doses that we were going to use with our long term care and shelter locations.”  Lopez said her department will use Pfizer and Moderna doses for upcoming clinics instead.  Lopez added that the County received 2,400 additional doses of Moderna vaccine this week, nearly enough to offset the loss of the Johnson and Johnson.

Asked about “selling” the Johnson and Johnson to the public, in the event that the clotting problem is resolved, Dr. James Lawler of the University of Nebraska Medical Center, said it’s completely appropriate that the program “take a pause, identify all cases that have the clotting syndrome, and make sure we’re aware of all the potential risk factors”

Lawler said the entire situation indicates to him that the safety systems are working.  He added that the clotting problem probably would not have been picked up, even in the most widespread clinical trials.  Those trials, he said, usually involve 30,000 to 40,000 participants.  “Here we’re talking about something that occurs in about one out of a million people.”  He added that monitoring after trials, as a new vaccine is given out, is how additional problems are picked up.

The Lancaster County Covid-19 risk dial remained in the mid-yellow category today, indicating a moderate risk of spread of the virus.


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