Patricia Lopez, RN, MSN, Interim Health Director, 402-441-8093
COVID-19 Risk Dial Unchanged as Local Risk of Virus Spread Remains High
The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD) today said the COVID-19 Risk Dial at COVID19.lincoln.ne.gov remains in the orange category indicating a "high risk" of the spread of COVID-19. On the color-coded Dial, red represents the highest risk of COVID-19 spread, and green represents the lowest. The Dial is updated every Friday.
"As restrictions ease on June 1, we need our residents to remember that they are at risk of contracting the virus any time they are out in the community and around others," said Pat Lopez, Interim Health Director. "Any one of us can be an asymptomatic carrier of the virus and unknowingly spread the disease, so it's important that we all continue to stay home as much as possible, stay at least six feet from others, wash our hands frequently, and wear face coverings."
The Health Department continues to use local and regional data from the past few weeks to determine how high the risk of spread of COVID-19 is in our community. Lopez provided an update on the five key factors:
The number of lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases reported in Lancaster County has decreased from an average of 35 new cases reported per day to about 30. Daily test numbers continue to fluctuate because of occasional delays in receiving electronic reports from labs.
The overall positivity rate - the percentage of all tests that are positive - continues to slowly decrease. The rate has dropped from 8.2 percent May 22 to 7.6 percent today. The overall state rate for the state is 13.9 percent, and the overall national rate is 14.3 percent.
Testing capacity remains stable with about 3,000 tests completed each week for the past two weeks. This has been accomplished mostly through testing at hospital drive-thru sites and a few mobile testing sites. In addition, Test Nebraska has completed over 4,000 tests in Lincoln since May 8. The holiday weekend did result in a decline in testing, and Test Nebraska will move to Nebraska site this week, so LLCHD anticipates a leveling off or decrease in the number of tests being completed. Test Nebraska will return to Lincoln June 8.
The capacity of the local health system remains stable. Over the past two weeks, Lincoln has seen a leveling off in the number of COVID-19 patients in our local hospitals, with about 38 positive patients being hospitalized and about 11 using ventilators.
The capacity of LLCHD to conduct investigations and contact tracing has kept up with demand. The number of contact tracers available remains at 34. The number of Lancaster County residents who are positive cases related to Smithfield in Crete is 319. The number of cases at Smithfield here in Lincoln is 27, and the number of cases at Smart Chicken in Waverly is also 27. An additional local cluster identified this week is Universal Cold Storage, which has positive cases at both of its locations in Lincoln. The number of cases at Universal Cold Storage is 31, and these cases are connected to the outbreak in Crete.
For each color of risk, LLCHD provides specific recommendations for physical distancing, face covering, hand washing, illness monitoring, and disinfection. Specific guidance is included for people at risk for complications due to COVID-19 and for businesses. The recommendations have been informed by guidance from national resources, including those produced by Johns Hopkins University, the CDC, and the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
More information on COVID-19 and the City's response is available at COVID19.lincoln.ne.gov. The website includes information on how those with symptoms of COVID-19 can be tested in Lincoln.