South Heartland Health District Says COVID Cases Have Accelerated

Sept. 24, 2021, 2:30 p.m. ·

South Heartland District Heath Department Health Director Michele Bever
South Heartland District Health Department Health Director Michele Bever. (Photo from Zoom)

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Health officials in the South Heartland District Health Department say they’re still struggling to get more people vaccinated and have seen a dramatic acceleration in new cases this month.

On Friday, Health Director Michele Bever said in June, there were only eight new cases of COVID 19 in Adams, Clay, Nuckolls and Webster counties. Last week alone, the district saw 231 new cases with another 147 cases so far this week and a positivity rate of almost 20%. Bever said the numbers are clear when it comes to vaccination.

“Most of the patients being hospitalized with COVID now are not fully vaccinated,” Bever said. “In fact, in Nebraska since January 1st, 2021, 94% of all COVID-19 hospitalizations and 95% of all COVID-19 deaths were among not fully-vaccinated people.”

Eric Barber
Mary Lanning CEO Eric Barber. (Photo from Zoom)

Eric Barber is the CEO of Mary Lanning Healthcare in Hastings and said hospital capacity and staffing is still an issue.

“I would tell you the good news is right now at Mary Lanning we have been able to keep up,” Barber said. “I fear how long that’s sustainable for our staff because they’re just stretched thin. We continue to get resources that we need when it comes to testing and the therapeutics like monoclonal antibodies and all those things seem to get to us just in time so that we can keep up, but if this trend continues and it starts to look like it did last fall, I’m a little nervous about that.”

Barber said monoclonal antibody treatments are helping with COVID patients. So far, COVID booster shots for people 65 years and older haven’t started yet in Mary Lanning hospitals or in the South Heartland Health District.