The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department reports three more residents have died from COVID-19, bringing the total number of deaths in Lancaster County to 73. The individuals were a woman in her 80s and a man in his 70s, who were both in nursing homes, and a woman in her 90s who was hospitalized.
There are 226 new confirmed cases in the county today bringing the community total to 15.061. Recoveries are up from 4,987 to 5,032. The positivity rate for November 22nd through the 24th is at 26.4%. There are 164 people hospitalized with 19 patients on ventilators.
That has led to new Directed Health Measures that go into effect at 12:01 Wednesday. They include:
Restaurants with bars must stop alcohol sales by 8:45 p.m. and close completely by 9 p.m. Take out and delivery may continue after 9 p.m.
- These establishments must reduce occupancy to 50 percent, with parties of no more than eight spaced at least six feet apart. No games such as pool or darts are allowed. Patrons are to remain seated except to order or to use the restrooms and must wear masks when not seated.
Bars with no food service must move to delivery or carry-out services only
Gyms must limit visitors to 25% or a maximum of 10 at a time, excluding employees. Contact sports, like basketball or volleyball, are no longer allowed for all age groups.
Indoor gatherings are limited to 10 people and outdoor gatherings limited to 25. The exemptions include schools, grocery stores, offices, retail stores and factories.
These existing measures remain in place:
- All large events continue to be postponed.
- Individuals must wear masks indoors unless no one else is in the same room and they can maintain at least 6 feet of separation from others at all times.
- Indoor youth sports activities remain postponed until December 7, and this measure will be reevaluated before that date.
- Religious gatherings, including weddings and funerals continue to be governed by the current State DHM.
- Companies licensed to allow consumption of alcohol on city streets such as pedal pubs and party buses may not operate until after December 18.
For the third consecutive week, the COVID-19 Risk Dial remains in red, indicating that the risk of the virus spreading is severe. Health Director Pat Lopez said these key indicators continue to move in the wrong direction:
- The seven-day rolling average of new cases has increased from 124 at the end of October to 278 at the end of last week, a 125 percent increase.
- The number of new weekly cases has more than doubled from 890 for the week ending October 31 to 1,861 the week ending November 21.
- The weekly positivity rate has also more than doubled from 13.3 percent for the week ending October 24 to 27.4 percent the week ending November 21.
- The number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized locally has increased from 84 on October 31 to 170 November 21.
“We have no indications that our case numbers, positivity rate, and hospitalizations have peaked. We do not have reason to believe that things are going to get better without further action,” said Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird. “We hear our health care professionals – the situation is critical. They need our support, and the only way we can protect our health care system is to turn these numbers around and prevent further illness that leads to hospitalizations.”
The COVID-19 Risk Dial is in the red position indicating a severe risk of the virus spreading. Residents are advised to follow these recommendations to protect themselves and others:
- Stay at home unless traveling for work, school, food or medical care or to check on others who may need assistance.
- Work from home if possible.
- Wear a face mask when interacting with anyone outside of your household.
- Stay at least six feet away from anyone outside of your household.
- Avoid gatherings.
- Only visit businesses and participate in activities where public health guidelines are observed. The guidelines include mask wearing, physical distancing and capacity limits.
- Follow travel guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control at cdc.gov.
Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, shortness of breath, repeated shaking with chills, repeated muscle pain, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell. If you have symptoms, please get tested. Testing is now open to all Lancaster County residents by appointment only.
The testing process begins with a free online risk assessment available at BryanHealth.com, CHIHealth.com or TestNebraska.com. Drive through test sites include:
- Bryan Health: Former Graham Tire Store, northeast corner of 19th and “O” streets.
- Test Nebraska: Gateway Mall, 6100 “O” St., north parking lot of the former Sears store, 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. For more information visit testnebraska.com or call 402-207-9377.
- CHI Health St. Elizabeth: Autumn Ridge Family Medicine, 5000 North 26th St. and Southwest Family Health, 1240 Aries Drive. Call either site to schedule an appointment: Autumn Ridge at 402-435-5300 and South West Family at 402-420-1300.