More COVID-19 Guidance Information Provided, Northeast Nebraska Public Health Department Sees Positivity Rate Go Up

WAYNE – A week after the Northeast Nebraska Public Health Department COVID-19 risk dial jumped slightly into the high-level (orange), it rose again this past Wednesday to the halfway point of the orange dial.

NNPHD continues to provide Wednesday updates of their risk dial and graphs along with multiple reports throughout the week.

Julie Rother is the Health Director with NNPHD. Rother talked about the health department looks at a wide variety of graphs and charts.

“We’re looking at this week by week,” said Rother. “Some of the metrics that we look at we actually look at the last three weeks to get a better trend idea of what’s going on. It’s not all about the number of cases which a lot of people have misunderstood that.”

Rother wants to remind listeners that even though this week’s cases do not seem to reflect the recent increase in the risk dial, to remember that there are many variables that impact current risk level and the dial. NNPHD continues to encourage the adherence to the guidelines for the dial to slow the spread of the virus.

NNPHD updates the risk dial on a weekly basis. Each metric is measured on a scale from 0-4 as the risk dial color is then chosen by averaging the numbers together.

An ongoing discussion that Rother and the Health Department continues to have is making sure the community is informed as well as they can be. There was a long of conversation when the NNPHD Health District moved from yellow to orange as Rother added what the important thing to take away from the risk dial is.

“When you look at the color of the dial and you look at the guidance document that goes along with that color,” Rother added. “All of those things that are listed in the guidance document are things that people can do, that they can pay attention to being very thorough about in order to reduce their risk of catching the virus within the community.”

There are four individuals on the data team for the NNPHD Health District who continue to look at the updated case information and receive a report from the contract tracing team.

The reason the risk dial recently went a little further into the orange color was due to the positivity rate has been trending up.

As schools are back in session, Rother mentioned she’s had a lot of conversations with superintendents.

“We know that it’s really important for kids to be in school,” Rother mentioned. “I don’t think that any of the superintendents take that decision lightly as far as whether to close or not. I know that they make their decisions with the best information they possibly have.”

Also, following ongoing investigations it was determined that COVID-19 was not a final factor in a seventh death that was previously attributed to the coronavirus. The data has been updated to reflect that information as there have been sixth deaths in the NNPHD Health District of Cedar, Dixon, Thurston and Wayne counties.

Updated numbers through Thursday evening saw eight new COVID-19 positive cases four in Thurston County (235) as well as two being in Cedar County (46) and Wayne County (47). Dixon County remains at 67. Also, 310 of the 395 total positives have recovered as the Health District has reported over 4,000 negative tests.

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Catch the complete interview with Julie under the ‘Podcasts’ tab by selecting the ‘Community’ drop-down on