The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD) announced today that the COVID-19 Risk Dial at COVID19.lincoln.ne.gov has moved from yellow to orange, indicating that the risk has gone from moderate to high. It is the first time the risk has increased since the dial was introduced in May. On the color-coded dial, red represents the highest risk of COVID-19 spread, and green represents the lowest. The dial is usually updated every Friday.
Interim Health Director Pat Lopez said LLCHD is increasingly concerned with the number of new cases, the positivity rate, and the delay in getting testing results, which reduces the ability to do effective contact tracing.
"This is an important signal that we must get more committed to our efforts to fight this virus. It's not only important, it's urgent," said Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird. "If we want schools to open in the fall, if we want businesses to resume operations, if we want to watch Husker football and volleyball and other fall sports, we have to make it happen by practicing the three W's: wash your hands, wear a face covering and watch your distance by staying at least six feet from others."
The change from yellow to orange also lowers capacity at some City facilities. Lincoln City Libraries will now operate at 25 percent capacity instead of 50 percent, and visits are limited to one hour. Capacity at public pools is reduced from 35 percent to 25 percent. Spectators at Densmore Field will not be allowed to sit in the bleachers. Changes to services are updated at the "City and County Services" page at COVID19.lincoln.ne.gov.
At the orange level, the public guidelines includes the following recommendations:
LLCHD uses five key factors to determine the local COVID-19 Risk Dial position:
Lopez said another concern is the increased number of new cases being reported for those under age 40. Since restrictions eased June 22, 70 percent of all the cases reported are individuals under age 40, and 57 percent of the cases are individuals between the ages of 20 and 39. "Unfortunately, we are seeing new cases occurring because young people are takin the virus home, spreading it to their parents, other family members and possibly to grandparents in some cases," she said.
Lopez said LLCHD is concerned that that turn-around times for lab are 5 to 7 days in many cases. She said slow turn-around times from labs cause delays in starting the crucial process of contact tracing to prevent further outbreaks.
More information on COVID-19, the City's response, the latest Directed Health Measures for Lancaster County, and testing is available at COVID19.lincoln.ne.gov.