The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD) today said the COVID-19 Risk Dial remains in mid-orange for the fifth 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.
Health Director Pat Lopez said about 18 cases of COVID-19 have now been traced to an event at the Lincoln Eagles Club on September 11. Five of those individuals are 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.
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. Lopez updated the five primary factors used to determine risk:
Number of new cases: So far this week, 495 new cases have been reported. Last week's total was 569. In August and September, over 3,400 people tested positive for COVID locally, over 50 percent of all cases reported since the beginning of the pandemic.
"We have a crucial time ahead," Lopez said. "In addition to the start of flu season, we know that the cold weather will move people indoors where it is harder to distance ourselves from others. We can't move past this pandemic until we stop this virus from spreading."
Older individuals have become a larger proportion of the total cases. The 40 to 59 age group increased from 18.3 percent of cases the week ending September 5 to 25.3 percent of all cases so far this week. The 60 to 79 age group increased from 4.5 percent of cases the week ending September 5 to 15.6 percent of all cases so far this week.
Hospitalizations: The number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Lancaster County has increased from 14 on September 18 to 68 today. The high number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized was 71 on September 25, 28 and 29.
Positivity rate: The average weekly positivity rate remains high at about 13.3 percent but it is lower than the 14.7 percent positivity rate for the week ending September 26.
Testing capacity: More than 78,000 people have been tested in Lancaster County, and testing remains widely available in the community. So far this week about 3,700 tests have been completed.
Contact tracing capacity: The sooner test results are received from the labs, the sooner public health nurses can begin the important step of contact tracing, which is critical in preventing community spread and outbreaks. Over the past two weeks, the average turnaround time has decreased from 3.14 days down to about 2.6 this week. So far this week, about 73 percent of all lab results have been received in under three days.
For more information, visit COVID19.lincoln.ne.gov or call the Health Department hotline at 402-441-8006.