COVID-19 Risk Dial Moves Back to Yellow
Published on July 27, 2021
No further restrictions implemented at this time
The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD) today announced that the COVID-19 Risk Dial will move to yellow, which indicates that the risk of the virus spreading and the impact on our community is moderate. The dial has been in green since May 18. On the color-coded dial, red represents the highest risk of COVID-19 spread, and green represents the lowest risk.
The seven-day rolling average of new daily cases has increased from five per day on June 27 to 32 cases the week ending July 24. The seven-day rolling average of hospitalizations increased from a low of nine COVID patients on June 20 to 38 patients yesterday, July 26. Today, 42 patients are hospitalized locally.
Health Director Pat Lopez said the delta variant now represents more than 80% of the virus circulating in the U.S. and is the most frequently identified variant in Nebraska and Lancaster County. It spreads more easily and more quickly than other variants, and it’s more likely to cause severe disease, especially in those who are unvaccinated.
“The delta variant will seek out those who are not yet vaccinated and continue to spread if given the opportunity,” Lopez said. “Vaccination is the best protection we have against the delta variant. Vaccination helps prevent severe illness, reduces hospitalizations, and slows further spread in our community. When we prevent the spread of the virus, we also help prevent new variants from emerging.”
About 68% of Lancaster County residents age 16 and older are fully vaccinated. The goal is 75%. When all ages are included, 54%, about 172,000 residents, are fully vaccinated, and that rate continues to be the best in the state. Children under age 12 who are not yet eligible for vaccine make up 16%. About 3% of our population has received only one dose of a two-dose vaccine. That leaves 27% of our population, about 84,000 people, unvaccinated.
Lopez said data shows that unvaccinated individuals are seven times more likely to be infected with COVID-19, and more likely to be hospitalized. Over the past four weeks, 88% of those hospitalized in Nebraska were not fully vaccinated.
“It’s important to recognize that no vaccine is 100% effective, and some infections after vaccination are expected,” Lopez said. “However, the vast majority of people who are vaccinated are experiencing milder symptoms if infected, and they aren’t nearly as likely to require hospitalization or to transmit the virus to others. The bottom line is you’re more protected with vaccination than without it.”
While no further restrictions are being implemented at this time, LLCHD has updated the public health guidance at covid19.lincoln.ne.gov:
- Masks continue to be recommended for people who aren’t vaccinated in both indoor settings and crowded outdoor settings.
- Adults over age 65, anyone with underlying health conditions and other populations at heightened risk from COVID-19, should consider further precautions, even if they are vaccinated. Those precautions include wearing a mask in indoor public settings and avoiding close interactions with people who are unvaccinated. You may want to consult with your health are provider about additional steps you can take to protect yourself.
- Everyone who has COVID-like symptoms should wear a mask regardless of vaccination status.
- For an additional layer of protection, people who are vaccinated may consider wearing a mask in indoor settings and crowded outdoor settings where distancing is difficult.
Lopez said everyone should continue to monitor their health and to be on the alert for fever, cough, shortness of breath and other symptoms of COVID-19. Even if you are vaccinated, you should separate yourself from others and get tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19.
For more information, visit covid19.lincoln.ne.gov or call the Health Department hotline at 402-441-8006.