LINCOLN–(News Release Jan. 19)–The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD) on Wednesday announced that the COVID-19 Risk Dial will remain in red position for a third consecutive week, indicating that the risk of the virus spreading in the community is severe. On the color-coded dial, red represents the highest risk of COVID-19 spread, and green represents the lowest risk.
Health Director Pat Lopez said omicron remains the predominant strain of COVID-19 in Nebraska and is continuing to cause a rapid increase in cases. The number of new COVID-19 cases in Lancaster County increased from 982 the week ending December 25 to 4,456 the week ending January 15, an increase of more than 350%. The number of weekly cases has set new record highs for the last two weeks. Over the same time period, the average weekly hospitalizations from COVID-19 in Lancaster County have increased from 113 to 134. The Risk Dial metric for local hospitalizations has been in the red category, indicating severe risk, for three consecutive weeks. Twenty local residents have died from COVID-19 this month.
To respond to the current surge of the omicron COVID-19 variant, LLCHD issued a local Directed Health Measure (DHM) that went into effect Saturday, January 15 and continues through February 11. The DHM includes a mask mandate for individuals ages 2 and older, regardless of vaccination status. Exceptions to the mandate and more information on the DHM are available by visiting covid19.lincoln.ne.gov or by calling 402-441-6280.
In addition to wearing masks, LLCHD urges residents take the following precautions:
Limit interactions outside the home by traveling only to work or school, to buy food or get medical care, or to get tested or vaccinated.
Get vaccinated or boosted now.
Avoid crowds, and don’t attend big events such as concerts and athletic competitions.
Get tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms which can be similar to cold or flu symptoms.
Get tested if you have been exposed to someone who has the virus.
If you are sick, stay home and away from others.
Watch your distance and wash your hands.
Updated guidance and recommendations can be found at covid19.lincoln.ne.gov.
December data from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services shows the importance of being vaccinated and getting a booster or third dose:
Nebraskans who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 but not yet boosted are 11 times less likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19.
Nebraskans who are fully vaccinated and boosted were 46 times less likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19.
All Lancaster County residents ages 5 and older are eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccine. Sixty-five percent of all Lancaster County residents are fully vaccinated. Over 110,000 residents have now received a booster or third dose – that’s 59% percent of residents ages 12 and up. About 27% of children ages 5 through 11 are now fully vaccinated.
For general information on COVID-19, visit covid19.lincoln.ne.gov or call the Health Department hotline at 402-441-8006.