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Two Rivers raises COVID-19 risk dial to red 'pandemic' level

Two Rivers raises COVID-19 risk dial to red 'pandemic' level

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KEARNEY – For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began in late March, Two Rivers Public Health has raised its weekly risk dial to red, or the pandemic stage. It is the highest level of risk on the four-level dial.

Cases have been surging in recent weeks, with 742 new cases in the past month alone in Buffalo County. Of those, 418 are active cases, Two Rivers said.

In Kearney County, there are currently 75 active cases out of the 122 new cases in the past month.

In the seven-county Two Rivers region, 37 COVID-19 patients have died since March 20, with five deaths reported in the past week. Two were people in their 40s. The Two Rivers region includes Buffalo, Dawson, Franklin, Gosper, Harlan, Kearney and Phelps counties.

Due to the red level on the risk dial, Two Rivers recommends individuals:

- Work from home

- Stay home unless you must travel for work, or need medical care or food

- Maintain a distance at least six feet from anyone outside the home

- Wear face coverings outside your home and when you are near others

- Avoid group gatherings if you cannot maintain a six-foot distance from others

- Frequently wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, especially after touching high-contact surfaces, sneezing/coughing/or touching your face, and before eating

- Use hand sanitizer if you cannot wash your hands

- If you have flu-like or COVID-like symptoms, stay home. This includes essential personnel such as safety forces and medical staff

- Minimize contact with symptomatic people

- Take daily temperature checks at work

- Do not touch any surfaces with your bare hands

- Use a barrier such as a paper towel or clothing if hand contact is unavoidable

- Wash hands or apply sanitizer after touching high contact surfaces

- Enhance disinfection procedures, especially for door/other handles, light switches and bathroom fixtures

Two Rivers does not recommend that schools close, but it will work closely with school districts to ensure the continued safety of students, according to Jeremy Eschliman, health director at Two Rivers.

“Two Rivers commends area schools for their vigilance in keeping students safe during this time,” Eschliman said.

COVID-19 numbers are also surging statewide. As of Wednesday, total cases were 66,545, with 55 COVID-19-related deaths over the last seven days, for a total of 620.

The daily statewide average of positive cases for the last seven days rose to 852, compared to a daily average of 838 last week, and 684 and 530 cases in prior weeks.

Daily hospitalizations increased by 37 over the last seven days for a total of 436. Also, 91 of Nebraska’s 93 counties have had one or more positive COVID-19 cases in the last 14 days.

On Halloween, those wearing costumes should make a cloth face mask part of their costume because layering a costume mask over a cloth mask can make it hard to breathe.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has tips for Halloween, Dia de los Muertos, Thanksgiving and other celebrations, Visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html#halloween.

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