WAYNE – As the updated Directed Health Measures will go into effect in a few days, officials with the Northeast Nebraska Public Health Department continue to meet with several groups regularly to keep everyone up to date.
Health Director with NNPHD, Julie Rother joined Dan Baddorf on the “View from Wayne America” talking about what the health department has been doing during the COVID-19 pandemic and previewing the June 1 DHMs.
Updated COVID-19 numbers within the NNPHD Health District of Cedar, Dixon, Thurston and Wayne counties rose by 10 Thursday. The new residents are from Thurston (seven), Dixon (two) and Wayne (one) counties being six females and four males ranging in age from 20s, 30s, 50s, 60s and 70s. A second death was also reported Thursday for a Dixon county resident in their 70s. The first death, which was confirmed last Thursday (May 21), was a resident from Thurston county and also in their 70s. One was a male and another a female.
As of Thursday evening, there have been 906 COVID-19 tests reported for people living in the NNPHD Health District of Cedar, Dixon, Thurston and Wayne Counties. The results of these tests include 125 positive cases (Cedar – 7, Dixon – 31, Thurston – 72 and Wayne county – 15), 744 negatives and 37 tests currently pending results.
A team of two full-time and two part-time nurses along with Rother are the contact tracers for the health district.
Rother said they’re interviewing for another full-time nursing positing right now.
“If needed we can also ask for some reinforcements from the DHHS,” said Rother. “They have trained a lot of people at the state DHHS offices that can help local health departments with this process because that is an important piece of what we’re doing.”
A requirement to be a contact tracer is to conduct an interview with the person who tested positive for COVID-19 to try and get them to remember where they’ve been for the last several days and who they were with. Rother added another important piece, being the next step.
“Is that we reach out with the people who are identified as close contacts,” Rother added. “Have a similar conversation with them to try to get a very well-rounded picture of what the interaction was like, what the encounter was like so that we can really determine who are the close contacts that should be in quarantine.”
Anyone who has tested positive are then informed they need to be isolated and stay home and away from others as the team of nurses call them regularly.
“See how they’re feeling, make sure that they understand what isolation means,” Rother mentioned. “We also continue to ask them questions to see if they can remember any more close contacts that they may have had.”
The residents who test positive are also educated on the importance of notifying the medical community if they would need to access healthcare to protect the healthcare system.
The team of nurses also follow up with any close contacts who are placed in quarantine for 14 days from the last date of exposure.
Another challenge that the Northeast Nebraska Public Health Department finds is tracking recoveries. Rother is estimating that throughout the NNPHD service area (not including households on reservations), there are about 50 households they’re following up with right now.
“Of those 50 households, about 25% of them are isolated,” said Rother. “So, based on looking at that and then looking at our overall numbers, I would guesstimate that about 75% of the people that we have followed in the past for isolation have been removed from isolation.”
To get off isolation, residents will have to show the health department improvement at the point in the illness process where the individual is no longer infectious.
Also, based on the people that the NNPHD is monitoring, three individuals have been hospitalized with two of those three being released and are doing well.
Find the complete interview with Rother on waynedailynews.com by selecting the ‘Community’ tab and click on the ‘Podcasts’ link.
Contact the health department at 402-375-2200, visit nnphd.org or contact the COVID-19 call in line about general questions from 8 a.m. to 8 p.