Nebraska City City Hall

Nebraska City City Hall

(Nebraska City) – Southeast Nebraska health officials are sending a clear message on COVID-19 – it’s not over.

That message was heard in reports to the Nebraska City Board of Health during its monthly meeting Monday afternoon. Grant Brueggeman is executive director of the Southeast District Health Department. Brueggeman says recent statistics indicate a surge in coronavirus cases in the five-county region for the first time in several weeks…

“The district has seen 129 new cases in the last 30 days,” said Brueggeman. “The current incidence rate as of this (Monday) morning was 4.5 per hundred thousand on a seven-day rolling average. That’s a trend we haven’t seen since the late August timeframe. That’s been a downward trend for the past couple of months. Similarly for Otoe County, the last 30 days has been 50 cases, for an incidence rate of just shy of three per one hundred thousand.”

In addition, Brueggeman says the first case of COVID variant B-1-1-7 was identified in Otoe County. On the plus side, he says more than 25% of the entire district’s population has received either two vaccine doses, or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Dr. Dan DeFreece is president of CHI St. Mary’s Hospital in Nebraska City, which has assisted the region with the vaccination process. DeFreece says post-vaccination reactions have been detected in two forms.

“There’s a true anaphylactic or allergic reaction,” said DeFreece. “I don’t think we’ve seen that, and we’ve been 3,000 or 4,000 doses. We do see what I would call a side effect, which would be headache, muscle aches, sometimes fever, some things like that, and that’s a variable number. But in terms of true reactions, I would say it’s been very, very low.”

DeFreece urged residents to continue COVID mitigation efforts, as the virus hasn’t gone away.

“We are still seeing the disease – the disease is still out there,” he said. “We don’t know how the variants are going to respond. We do know that the vaccines seem to be still effective for the variants at this point, which is certainly good news. But, I would still recommend mask wearing, hand washing.

“We know it works. We know that we can go about, basically, usual business and do those things. We’re still strongly recommending (mitigation efforts). We’re not out of this yet,” DeFreece added.

He also stressed southeast Nebraska residents to schedule vaccination appointments on the state’s website, vaccinate.ne.gov.

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