COVID-19 Risk Dial spiking since school back in session

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — Friday, the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD) announced the COVID-19 Risk Dial has moved further into the ‘orange’, or ‘high risk’, section.

Today, 89 positive cases were reported, raising the current county positivity rate from 7.1 percent to 7.2 percent. With 430 cases total reported this week, it is also a new weekly high.

“It is very concerning to us to see the current data moving in the wrong direction,” said Scott Holmes, the Environmental Public Health Department Manager.

Officials attribute most of this increase to school being back in session. Although no positive cases have come from inside the classroom, social activities outside of school are leading to a greater opportunity for community spread.

Prior to school being back in session, the positivity rate for those ages 18 and 19 was only 5 percent. Since the week of Aug. 29, that number spiked to over 30 percent.

Last week, 50 percent of the cases were related to the University of Nebraska- Lincoln. To date, 53 cases were confirmed in relation to Nebraska Wesleyan University.

“Our primary concern… is that the spread of COVID-19 among college students could impact a greater proportion of older adults in Lincoln, who are more likely to have a more severe illness,” said Holmes. “We want to emphasize that the increase in new cases is not only our college campuses concern, it is our community’s concern.”

The number of coronavirus related hospitalizations is also up, from ten to 32. Only eight are from Lancaster county, but this is the first time since June 6th that we’ve had more than 30 hospital patients.

Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird also warned that our coronavirus numbers continued to spike two to three weeks following a holiday weekend. With that in mind, she stresses that as we “take a break from our labors this weekend, we must not take a break from the work to defeat this virus.”

The community total for positive coronavirus cases is currently 4,397, with 1,972 recoveries.

Categories: Coronavirus, Lancaster