KEARNEY – With only 21 cases of COVID-19 recorded in the seven counties of the Two Rivers Public Health Department between 9-16. March, Two Rivers’ weekly risk has dropped to the middle of the second-lowest “moderate” area.
This is the lowest the dial has been since August 4 last year.
The 21 cases are only half as many as the new cases reported in each of the last two weeks, and 95% less than the number confirmed when the cases peaked here in late January.
But it’s not time to completely relax yet, said Susan Puckett, health nurse at Two Rivers, during Friday’s weekly community conference.
A new omicron variant sweeps through Europe and is responsible for 20% of new cases nationwide in the United States. The US often follows the COVID-19 trends in Europe by a few weeks.
“The 20% is an estimate, as not all positive COVID tests at home are passed on to a laboratory for variant testing now, but this variant is just as contagious and transmissible as the first omicron variant,” she said. It is the variant that sent new cases into the air in January.
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Puckett said Nebraska now has, on average, only 21.7 cases per year. day per 100,000 people, but Jeremy Eschliman, health director for Two Rivers, said more people are testing themselves at home, and not everyone reports the results, so the numbers for positive tests may not be quite right. accurate.
Since the pandemic began on March 20, 2020, the state has had 477,187 cases of COVID-19 and 4,044 deaths. “We are in good shape,” Puckett said, especially compared to the surrounding states, where cases and deaths are much higher, especially in densely populated urban areas like St. Louis. Louis, Kansas City and Des Moines.
Two Rivers, which includes the counties of Buffalo, Dawson, Franklin, Gosper, Harlan, Kearney and Phelps, have had 200 people killed by COVID per year. February 17, 2022
Puckett urged people traveling to take a quick antigen test before leaving home. Some people with COVID have mild symptoms, or none at all, especially those who become ill despite being vaccinated.
“A lot of people have COVID symptoms that are milder than a common cold these days, and at this time of year, some people think they have spring allergies when in fact it is COVID,” she added.
Likewise, people with less cold sniffles should also test themselves. “Do you have a snuff? Stick a cotton swab up your nose and find out if you have COVID,” she said.
Vaccinations have still stalled here. As of Wednesday, only 52% of the total Two Rivers population of 97,132 received two shots of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or a J&J vaccination. Not quite half of the region’s population has received a booster shot.
She said people who test positive and have high-risk conditions should also talk to a health care provider about whether or not they would be a candidate for antiviral medication prescribed to COVID-19 patients. Puckett said it is beneficial to start taking antiviral drugs within five days of the first symptoms.
“And it’s still a good idea to wear a mask for greater protection and avoid unnecessary indoor activities,” she said.
Puckett also urges people to Google “Test to Treat Initiative,” a new federal program unveiled this week that aims to increase access to treatments, including antiviral pills, for people who test positive for COVID.
In other news, Puckett said the flu and flu hospital is rising. Influenza vaccinations are recommended for young children, pregnant women, adults over 65 years of age, residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities and people with chronic health conditions such as heart disease and lung disease.
Two Rivers has also provided free home COVID test kits to libraries in Franklin, Gibbon, Minden, and Lexington. Up to 7,500 tests are also available at the Two Rivers office at 516 W. 11th St.