The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD) today said 65 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized locally, the highest number since the pandemic began. Hospital capacity is one of the main indicators used to determine the position of the COVID-19 Risk Dial. The Dial remains in mid-orange for the fourth consecutive week, indicating that the risk of the virus spreading in the community is high. On the color-coded dial, red represents "severe," the highest risk of COVID-19 spread, and green represents the lowest risk. The dial is updated every Friday.
The number of Lancaster County residents hospitalized has increased from 11 on September 18 to 31 today, also a new high. The number of patients from outside of Lancaster County who are hospitalized here has increased from 20 on September 18 to 34 today.
The age of individuals contracting COVID-19 continues to change. The percentage of new cases in the 18 to 22 age group has decreased from 56 percent at the end of August to 16 percent this week. At the same time, cases in all the other age groups have increased.
Scott Holmes, Manager of the Environmental Public Health Division at LLCHD, said about 16 cases of COVID-19 have now been traced to an event at the Lincoln Eagles Club September 11. At least one person who attended has been hospitalized. Those who attended the event or know someone who did are urged to contact the LLCHD Communicable Disease Program immediately at 402-441-8053.
"This week's Eagles Club outbreak and the rise in cases among our middle aged and older adult residents demonstrates that we cannot afford to let down our guard," said Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird. "The rise in community spread puts our entire community at risk, and our entire community needs to be part of the solution."
The position of the Risk Dial is based on multiple local indicators and information from the previous three weeks. More information on the metrics used by LLCHD is posted online just below the Dial. Holmes updated the other primary factors used to determine risk:
Number of new cases: So far this week, 461 new cases have been reported. Last week's total was 536, the second highest total so far. The high was the week ending September 12 when 690 cases were reported.
Positivity rate: The average weekly positivity rate had stabilized between 12 and 13 percent over the past three weeks. However, this week it has increased again to around 16.9 percent.
Testing capacity: Nearly 74,000 people have been tested in Lancaster County, and testing remains widely available in the community. Over 4,600 tests were completed the week ending September 19. So far this week about 2,700 tests have been completed.
Contact tracing capacity: Since September 1, public health nurses have completed 88 percent of the investigations within 24 hours of receiving the lab report.
The turnaround time for receiving test results this week has decreased from 2.7 days to 2.3 days. About 82 percent of the lab results were received within 48 hours.
For more information, visit COVID19.lincoln.ne.gov or call the Health Department hotline at 402-441-8006.