Hospital Capacity Remains a Concern

Published on September 21, 2021

COVID-19 Risk Dial remains at mid-orange

The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD) today announced that the COVID-19 Risk Dial will remain in mid-orange for a fifth consecutive week. Orange indicates that the risk of the virus spreading and the impact on our community is high. On the color-coded dial, red represents the highest risk of COVID-19 spread, and green represents the lowest risk. 

Health Director Pat Lopez said some indicators are improving, but hospital capacity remains a major concern. The seven-day rolling average of COVID-19 patients in local hospitals remained steady but high last week, between 105 and 108 patients. Today, 105 patients are hospitalized, with 24 on ventilators.

Lancaster County continues to have the highest vaccination rate in the state, with 73.1% of residents ages 16 and over fully vaccinated.  But Lopez reminded residents that the County’s total population is over 319,000, and the vaccination rate for all residents is 59%. That leaves 41%, about 131,000 people who are not fully vaccinated.

  • Children under age 12 who are not yet eligible for vaccine, which make up 16% of our population or around 52,000 people.
  • Almost 11,000 residents have started the vaccination process, but have not yet completed it.
  • About 21% of the total population is eligible for the vaccine, but not yet received it.  That’s about 68,000 people.

“By getting vaccinated, you are protecting yourself. You are protecting those who cannot be vaccinated, including our children. You are preventing further variants from developing.  You are doing your part to keep our schools and businesses open.  In short, you are helping to protect our entire community,”  Lopez said.   

The position of the Risk Dial is based on multiple local indicators and information from the previous three weeks. 

  • Twelve local residents have died from COVID-19 so far in September.  Nine were unvaccinated.
  • The seven-day rolling average of new daily cases decreased from a high of 140 cases on August 30 to 99 cases toward the end of last week. This represents a 29% decrease.
  • The community positivity rate has dropped from a high of 12.7% the week ending August 21  to about 10% over the past two weeks.  

The Directed Health Measure (DHM) remains in effect through September 30. It requires all individuals ages two and older – regardless of vaccination status – to wear a face mask when they are in an indoor space. The DHM requires all building operators and owners to ensure their patrons ages two and older wear masks. For a list of exceptions to the mask requirement and more information on the DHM, visit or call 402-441-6280.

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 general information on COVID-19, visit or call the Health Department hotline at 402-441-8006.

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