The Perfect Enemy | Lincoln-Lancaster County COVID-19 Risk Dial remains in low yellow - KOLN
February 23, 2024

Lincoln-Lancaster County COVID-19 Risk Dial remains in low yellow – KOLN

Lincoln-Lancaster County COVID-19 Risk Dial remains in low yellow  KOLN

LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) – The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department announced on Tuesday that the COVID-19 Risk Dial will remain in low yellow for a second week. The yellow position on the dial indicates that the risk of the virus spreading in the community is moderate. On the color-coded dial, red represents the highest risk of COVID-19 spread, and green represents the lowest risk.

The position of the risk dial is based on multiple indicators:

  • Cases increased slightly over the last week – from 152 to 157 for the week ending January 24.
  • The 7-day rolling average of hospitalizations decreased – from 35 last week to 31 today.
  • Wastewater surveillance showed a significant increase in the number of virus particles compared to the previous week.
  • No COVID-19 deaths were reported last week. The total remains 473.

“We recently identified the first local case of omicron variant XBB.1.5. As of now, our key indicators remain fairly stable. This newer variant is still spreading in the state and nationwide, but not as fast as anticipated. We’ll continue to keep a close eye on the situation and how it’s affecting our community,” said Pat Lopez, Health Director.

Early studies show updated bivalent boosters appear to offer some protection against XBB.1.5., particularly from severe illness. A January 25 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also showed that the bivalent boosters were at least 40% effective against symptomatic infection from XBB/XBB.1.5. variants. The Health Department continues to recommend residents stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations including getting the updated bivalent booster.

COVID-19 vaccine and bivalent booster doses are currently approved for everyone age 6 months and older.

Vaccinations: The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department offers COVID-19 vaccinations, including updated bivalent boosters, onsite at the Health Department, 3131 “O” St.

Appointments can be scheduled online at COVID19.lincoln.ne.gov or by calling 402-441-4200. Walk-ins are also welcome Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Local pharmacies also offer the COVID-19 primary series and updated boosters by appointment. Visit vaccines.gov to find a pharmacy near you.

Other vaccine developments: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is moving toward simplifying COVID-19 vaccination. Last week, an FDA advisory committee voted to adopt a strategy where the primary vaccine series and booster doses are the same formulation. The committee also considered a proposal for an annual COVID-19 vaccination approach, similar to yearly flu shots. The committee is expected to meet again in May or June.

Vaccinations administered:

  • Initiated vaccinations (first doses): 237,028
  • Completed vaccinations (primary series and J&J vaccine): 221,660
  • Lancaster County residents – fully vaccinated: 68.3%
  • Lancaster County residents – up to date: 18.6%

Dashboard/Risk Dial Metrics Updated:

The Health Department recently added enhancements to the COVID-19 dashboard including a new section on wastewater testing and the percentage of Lancaster County residents up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations. Charts and visuals showcasing this data were also added. The dashboard is updated every weekday.

Wastewater testing and up to date indicators are now incorporated into the Risk Dial metrics. The COVID-19 Risk Dial is a tool developed by the Health Department early in the pandemic response as part of a data-driven approach to help clearly communicate the risk of spread and impact of COVID-19 in Lincoln and Lancaster County.

The COVID-19 dashboard, Risk Dial metrics, and current public health guidance are available at  COVID19.lincoln.ne.gov.

COVID-19 testing:

At-home test kits are available in the main lobby of the LLCHD, 3131 “O” St., during regular business hours. Test kits are also available at all Lincoln City Library locations. Lancaster County residents can report results of their at-home COVID-19 tests to the Health Department. The form is available at lincoln.ne.gov/COVID19ReportResults. All information is confidential. Those requiring assistance completing the form may call LLCHD at 402-441-8006.

Every home in the U.S. can order another round of free, at-home tests from the federal government this winter. Visit covidtests.gov to place an order. The Food and Drug Administration extended the shelf lives of many home COVID-19 tests. To determine if a test has a new expiration date, visit At-Home OTC COVID-19 Diagnostic Tests | FDA.

For more information on testing or other COVID-19-related topics, visit COVID19.lincoln.ne.gov or call the LLCHD hotline at 402-441-8006.