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The Central District Health Department works hard to provide the most accurate and up to date information available. If you have questions on any of the pieces presented here please contact us at (308) 385-5175. 


CDHD APPROVES 2nd COVID-19 BOOSTER FOR THOSE AGE 50 AND OLDER

Grand Island, NE – On Tuesday, both the FDA and the CDC expanded the COVID-19 vaccine emergency use authorization to allow for a second booster for those age 50 and over who received the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine. This approval comes as the Omicron BA.2 variant has become the dominant strain in the United States.

·         A second booster of the Pfizer-Biotech COVID-19 Vaccine or Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine may be administered to individuals 50 years of age and older at least 4 months after receipt of a first booster dose of any authorized or approved vaccine.

·         A second booster dose of the Pfizer-Biotech COVID-19 Vaccine may be administered to individuals 12 years of age and older with certain kinds of immunocompromise at least 4 months after receipt of a first booster dose of any authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccine. These are people who have undergone solid organ transplantation, or who are living with conditions that are considered to have an equivalent level of immunocompromise.

·         A second booster dose of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine may be administered at least 4 months after the first booster dose of any authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccine to individuals 18 years of age and older with the same certain kinds of immunocompromise.

The extremely transmissible Omicron BA.2 variant is now the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the United States.  Despite the decline in cases overall, it is important to prepare for another surge, which is likely to come as soon as early summer.

“Being up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines is so very important,” Teresa Anderson, CDHD Health Director, said. “Currently, In the Central District just under 50% are up to date on vaccinations, making our community susceptible to another wave of COVID-19.”

The second booster has been authorized because vaccine effectiveness has been shown to wane over time, especially in the older population. COVID-19 vaccinations overwhelmingly reduce the risk of hospitalization and death from this serious disease.

CDHD offers vaccine clinics from 8 am – 4:30 pm Mondays – Fridays with Thursday clinics running until 6 pm. Nomi Health also offers COVID-19 testing from 8 am – 3 pm Mondays – Thursdays. The NE Department of Health and Human Services has also distributed free at home COVID-19 tests throughout our district. You can learn more at www.cdhd.ne.gov or call us at (308) 385-5175 for more information.


AVIAN INFLUENZA CONFIRMED IN CENTRAL DISTRICT

Grand Island, NE – The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) has confirmed a case of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in a backyard flock in Merrick County. 

HPAI is a highly contagious virus that spreads easily among birds through nasal and eye secretions, as well as manure. The virus can be spread in various ways from flock to flock, including by wild birds, through contact with infected poultry, by equipment, and on the clothing and shoes of caretakers. Wild birds can carry the virus without becoming sick, while domesticated birds can become very sick.

Flu viruses like HPAI are constantly changing and animal flu viruses can change such that they may gain the ability to infect people easily and spread among people. Human infections with HPAI would be concerning because of this pandemic potential. CDC takes routine public health preparedness measures whenever a virus with pandemic potential is identified.

As a general precaution, people should avoid wild birds and observe them only from a distance; avoid contact with domestic birds (poultry) that appear ill or have died and avoid contact with surfaces that appear to be contaminated with feces from wild or domestic birds. People who have had contact with infected bird(s)  should monitor their own health for possible symptoms (for example, conjunctivitis, or flu-like symptoms). 

If you have been in contact sick birds, seek medical care if you feel sick. People who have had contact with infected birds may also be given influenza antiviral drugs preventatively. Seasonal influenza vaccination will not prevent infection with avian influenza A viruses, but can reduce the risk of co-infection with human and avian influenza A viruses.

CDHD will be monitoring the situation and you can find updates on our website, www.cdhd.ne.gov or give us a call at (308) 385-5175. You can also find more information here:

Avian Influenza | USDA
Bird Flu Virus Infections in Humans | Avian Influenza (Flu) (cdc.gov)


Free Radon Test Kits Available For Your Home

Grand Island – CDHD is offering free Radon test kits to everyone in the Central District with the goal of reducing exposure to this dangerous gas that can be found in homes. Thanks to a grant from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, these tests are available from our office free of charge.

Radon is a colorless odorless gas, you can’t see, smell, or taste but that is present in some homes.

A naturally occurring radioactive gas, Radon has been identified as a leading cause of lung cancer, second only to cigarette smoking, in the United States. The EPA’s most recent health risk assessment estimates that 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year are due to radon.

Radon comes from the natural decay of uranium that is found in nearly all soils. It typically moves up through the ground to the air above and then into your home through cracks and other holes in the foundation. Your home traps radon inside, where it may build-up. Any home can have a radon problem including both new and old homes, well-sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without basements.

The only way to know whether radon exists at elevated levels, which is at or above 4 pCi/L (pico curies per liter), in your home, is to test for it. Children may be at an increased risk for health complications because their lungs are not fully developed and the sensitive tissues in their lungs are more vulnerable. Smokers, if exposed to radon, face a lung cancer risk 15 times greater than that of non-smokers.

All tests distributed as part of this grant include postage paid envelopes and free lab analysis and include short-term detectors, which are used for 3-7 days, provide quick screening measurements, and indicate potential radon problems and long-term detectors can be left in place for fourteen days to one year.  These kits provide the advantage of seasonal change which may impact radon levels.  Both detectors are usually placed in main living areas on the lowest level of the home.

Kits can be picked up free of charge at the Central District Health Department at 1137 S. Locust Street in Grand Island and can be picked up from 8 am – 4:30 pm Mondays – Friday and until 6 pm on Thursdays.  If you have any questions please call 308-385-5175.


COVID-19 Positivity Rate is at 10%, Case Counts Remain Low

Grand Island – The COVID-19 numbers for the Central District are “in the green” for the first time in 2022, just in time for the St. Patrick’s Day holiday next week.

The most recent 7-day average shows a case count of 20 in the last 7-day period with a 10% test positivity rate, 25.5 cases per 100,000 and no deaths. That puts the Central District in the “low transmissibility” category as defined by the Center for Disease Control. In addition, hospitals are reporting a lower impact of COVID-19 on their facilities. These numbers are in stark contrast to those at the end of January where there were more than a thousand news cases every 7 days and a positivity rate higher than 60%.

“These most recent numbers are a reason for celebration,” Teresa Anderson, Health Director of CDHD, said. “A 10% positivity rate means that we are no longer transmitting COVID-19 at the rates we saw earlier this year. According to the CDC’s COVID-19 community level, we are ‘in the green’ which is exactly where we want to be.”

Despite the decline in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, we should remain on guard as the Omicron wave subsides. COVID-19 Community Levels can help people take actions to protect themselves and navigate this new phase of the pandemic. For example:

-Get “up to date” on your COVID-19 vaccinations so you are prepared if numbers go up again..
-Wear a well-fitting mask indoors in areas with medium or high COVID-19 Community Levels. -If you visit someone who is at high risk, take a rapid test right before a visit. If the visit is indoors, make sure the ventilation is good and consider wearing a well-fitting mask.

CDC’s new COVID-19 Community Levels recommendations do not apply in healthcare settings, such as hospitals and nursing homes. Instead, healthcare settings continue to use community transmission rates and continue to follow CDC’s infection prevention and control recommendations for healthcare settings.

CDHD recommends vaccinations, above all, as the best way to protect yourself and your community against viruses like COVID-19 and Influenza which is increasing in Central Nebraska. CDHD is open from 8 am – 4:30 pm Mondays – Fridays and until 6 pm on Thursdays. Those 12 and up are recommended to get a booster shot after their initial course of the vaccine. Nomi Health provides COVID-19 testing from 8 am – 3 pm Mondays – Fridays and 8 am – 11:30 am on Saturdays. For more information on these numbers or any of the services we provide, please contact us at (308) 385-5175 or log onto www.cdhd.ne.gov. 


COVID Numbers Show Significant Drop in the Central District

Grand Island, NE – The CDHD COVID-19 dashboard shows just 74 new COVID-19 cases in the last 7 days in the Central District, one of the lowest case rates reported in the past six months and part of a continuing trend as COVID-19 numbers continue to drop after the Omicron variant surge in December and January.  With a 7-day case count of 94/100,000 we have dropped from “high community transmission” (red) to “substantial community transmission” (orange) for the first time since October 2, 2021.

“It is encouraging to see our case numbers trending downward,” said Teresa Anderson, Health Director of CDHD, adding, “We thank our community for doing its part in reducing and preventing the spread of COVID-19.”

The last time CDHD reported cases in the “low community transmission” (blue) zone with less than 10 cases/100,000 in a 7-day period was April 3, 2021.

In addition to widespread availability of the COVID-19 vaccine, which remains the most safe and effective way to protect yourself against the virus, CDHD has recently started distributing nearly 8,000 COVID-19 tests throughout the area. These rapid tests, provided by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, are free and available to the public at a variety of locations across the district, including CDHD’s 1137 South Locust Street location in Grand Island. Find where you can pick up your free tests at https://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/COVID-19-Testing.aspx.

While the downward trend is good news, CDHD advises that it remains prudent to follow CDC guidelines for prevention of COVID-19, including staying “up to date” on COVID vaccinations (a two-shot regimen for Moderna and Pfizer, a one shot regimen for J&J, plus booster shots for everyone 12 years and older), testing when you experience symptoms of COVID-19 and mask wearing indoors around the unvaccinated and medically vulnerable.

CDHD is open for vaccination clinics from 8 am – 4:30 pm Mon – Fri and until 6 pm on Thursdays. Shots are provided at no cost to you. COVID-19 rapid tests are available while supplies last. Nomi Health also offers drive thru COVID-19 testing from 8 am – 3 pm Mon – Fri and 8 am – 11:30 am on Saturdays. For more information log onto www.cdhd.ne.gov or call (308) 385-5175.


COVID-19 Deaths Rise Due To Reporting Data Lag

Grand Island, NE – Later today, CDHD’s dashboard will add 30 previously unreported COVID-19 related deaths in our district. This high number is largely due to lag time in reporting from as far back as January 2021. Our thoughts go out to the many families and friends of these lost loved ones.

Data on COVID-19 related deaths during the pandemic period can be delayed due to the date the death occurred, when the death certificate was completed and processing by the National Vital Statistics System. This delay can range from 1 to 8 weeks or more depending on jurisdiction and other factors. The 30 cases being reported in our district are confirmed COVID-19 related deaths, some dating back more than a year.

The cases reported include:

            -1 death reported in January of 2021
            -2 deaths reported in September of 2021
            -10 deaths reported in October
            -3 November of 2021
            -8 deaths reported in December 2021
            -2 deaths reported in January of 2022
            -4 deaths reported in February of 2022

“Unfortunately, during the pandemic this backlog of cases is not uncommon,” Teresa Anderson, Health Director of CDHD, said. “It is wise to continue to take precautions against COVID as we continue to see COVID-19 deaths which might have been prevented.”

Other indicators on our dashboard are more in line with the falling numbers of cases we’ve experienced in the past few weeks. As of February 18, 2022, over the past 7 days there were 116 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 148 cases per 100,000, and a positivity rate of 33%.

Vaccination remains the best way to protect yourself and your community against COVID-19. CDHD offers COVID-19 vaccination clinics from 8 am – 4:30 pm Mondays – Fridays and until 6 pm on Thursdays and include first and second doses for those 5 years old and up and boosters for those12 and up. No appointment is necessary and no one will be turned away. For more information call (308) 385-5175 or log onto www.cdhd.ne.gov.


Grand Island, NE – Two new medications to treat COVID-19 have arrived in the Central District and are free with a prescription.to those who have tested positive for the virus.

Paxlovid from Pfizer and Molnupiravir from Merck have both been given Emergency Use Authorization status by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of COVID-19. If you have a positive COVID test and take either of these medications with in 5 days after you first notice symptoms, these medications can prevent some of the worst effects of the virus, including hospitalization and death. These medications are particularly aimed at those at higher risk for severe symptoms of COVID-19 and include two pills taken each day for 5 days.

These medications, which must be prescribed by a medical professional, are available to be filled at the following locations:

-Super Saver 5 Points in Grand Island
-U-Save 4th Street and U-Save North West in Grand Island
-Memorial Community Health Clinic in Aurora
-Merrick Medical in partnership with Jim’s U-Save in Central City

These medications are free to the patient as part of a National program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you test positive for COVID, please talk with your medical professional of choice to see if you could benefit from these medications.

While Paxlovid and Molnupiravir work well for those who have received a COVID-19 vaccine and those who have not, vaccination remains the best way to prevent becoming very sick with COVID-19. CDHD offers no cost COVID-19 vaccinations from 8 am – 4:30 pm Mondays – Fridays and until 6 pm on Thursdays. Nomi Health also offers COVID-19 testing from 8 am – 3 pm Mondays – Fridays and from 8 am – 11:30 am on Saturdays. For more information visit www.cdhd.ne.gov or call (308) 385-5175.


FIRST INFLUENZA-RELATED DEATH REPORTED IN THE CENTRAL DISTRICT

Grand Island, NE – CDHD is saddened to report the first influenza-related death in the last two years. The woman, who was in her 70’s, had been vaccinated for influenza. This unfortunate event serves as a reminder that influenza can be serious.

Influenza, often called the flu, is caused by a virus that spreads person-to-person through large and small droplets in the air and on surfaces. Symptoms include cough, sore throat, fever, chills, headache, extreme tiredness, and muscle aches. Vomiting and diarrhea may also occur, especially in children. Recovery is rapid with fever usually resolving within 3 to 4 days and other symptoms within approximately 7 days.

The risk for complications and hospitalizations from influenza is higher among persons age 65 years and older, pregnant, and post-partum women, children younger than age 5 years, and persons of any age with certain underlying medical conditions. It is important to note that the same measures used to “flatten the COVID-19 curve” halted influenza spread. Influenza was virtually nonexistent for the 2020-2021 season likely because people were wearing masks, staying home more often, and not socializing.

The most effective way to combat this virus is to get an influenza vaccination. Studies have demonstrated a variety of benefits to influenza vaccination, including fewer illnesses, medical visits, ICU and hospital admissions, and days in the ICU and hospital. Influenza vaccinations are recommended annually for most persons 6 months old and up. Vaccination is particularly important for persons at increased risk for severe illness and complications from influenza.

CDHD offers influenza and COVID-19 vaccines from 8 am – 4:30 pm Mon – Fri with Thursday clinics running until 6 pm. You can also get both vaccines at most local pharmacies and health care provider’s offices. For more information log onto www.cdhd.ne.gov or call (308) 385-5175.


Grand Island, NE – Grand Island, NE – On Wednesday the CDC dropped the age for those who can receive the COVID-19 vaccine booster shot from 16-years-old to 12-years-old. This means everyone 12 and over who has received either a two-shot sequence of the Pfizer vaccine should  receive a booster shot 5 months after their second dose.

Anyone who have received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one shot of the Jansen (J&J) vaccine should also get a booster shot 5 months after their last dose.

According to the CDC, a booster shot increases immunity against COVID-19 significantly, particularly against several variants currently spreading quickly around the country.

Given the current spike on COVID-19 cases in Hall, Hamilton and Merrick Counties, this news is well timed. The last 7 days has seen more than 400 COVID-19 infections in the Central District, with over half of the new infections under the age of 40. Infections in younger children also continue to rise and transmissibility remains high. In the Central District, currently 17% of those under the age of 20 are vaccinated against COVID-19 and just over half (55%) of those under 40 are vaccinated.

In the United States about half of the 12 to 15 population -- about 8.7 million -- is fully vaccinated, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 5 million of them have been fully vaccinated for more than five months and are now eligible to receive a booster shot. Children in this age group represent about 5% of the total US population. They account for about 4% of the fully vaccinated population in the US and about 3% of those eligible to receive a booster shot, according to the latest CDC data.

CDHD offers COVID-19 vaccines from 8 am – 4:30 pm Mondays – Fridays and is open until 7 pm on Thursdays. Shots are given at no charge, although we ask for insurance to cover administrative costs. Vaccines are also available at your local pharmacy throughout the Central District.

Nomi Health offers drive through  COVID-19 testing from 8 am – 3 pm Mondays – Fridays and 8 am – Noon on Saturdays at our location. Please register prior to getting tested. For more information please call (308) 385-5175.

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