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Sharp increase in COVID-19 cases seen over past weekend

Sharp increase in COVID-19 cases seen over past weekend

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ASHLAND – The number of COVID-19 cases in Saunders County took a significant jump over the weekend, as new Directed Health Measures were extended for the area.

Three Rivers Health Public Department reported on Monday that there have been 138 people in Saunders County test positive for COVID-19. That is 13 more than were reported last Friday.

“This past weekend we have seen a significant increase in cases and we are seeing individuals that are symptomatic being out in the community – as a reminder, we need you to stay home if you are sick or if you are being tested for COVID,” said Terra Uhing, executive director of Three Rivers.

Saunders County topped 100 just two weeks ago, when the health department announced that 101 cases had been reported as of July 20. Since then, 37 new cases have been reported. There have been two deaths from COVID-19 in the county.

The increase in positive tests has pushed the needle on the COVID-19 community risk dial up slightly farther in the “moderate” range. The dial was implemented by Three Rivers on July 14 to give an overview of the current risk of COVID-19 in the health department’s jurisdiction, which includes Saunders, Dodge and Washington counties. The information is updated weekly.

The risk score in Saunders County is 1.50. The range for “moderate” is 0.5 to 2. The score for the entire Three Rivers jurisdiction is 1.63, also considered “moderate.”

The risk score is determined by factoring positivity rates, the decrease or increase in cases from the previous week, the number of patients who have been hospitalized, the availability of testing and the number of cases tracked by contact tracing.

In the “moderate” range, the recommendations are to stay home most of the time and go on non-essential travel and work trips with caution, stay six feet from others outside of your home, work from home if possible, wear face coverings when unable to stay socially distant, wash hands frequently, stay home if ill with flu-like or COVID-like symptoms, avoid bare hand contact with high touch surfaces in public and monitor for symptoms at home.

There have been 1,024 positive cases and 13 deaths reported in the entire Three Rivers jurisdiction. The total of tests that have been administered is 11,940.

On Aug. 1, the health department announced that Directed Health Measures (DHM) were extended until Aug. 31 for Saunders, Dodge and Washington counties in order to prevent the spread of the virus.

Gatherings are restricted to prevent in-person interaction, which is the main way COVID-19 is transmitted, according to the order announced by the Three Rivers over the weekend. The DHM are meant to keep the public from gathering in large numbers, in close proximity or in enclosed spaces to prevent spread of the coronavirus, which causes COVID-19. Gatherings are defined as a group of 10 people or more, excluding staff. They are now are restricted to 50% of indoor capacity or 75% of outdoor capacity, and may not exceed 10,000 people. Parades, carnivals, street and other types of dances and beer gardens are prohibited.

Fitness centers/clubs, gyms, school gyms and weight rooms, health clubs, martial arts studios and similar venues are not prohibited. Businesses like beauty salons, barber shops, massage therapy services and tattoo parlors must use masks and are limited to 75% capacity.

At restaurants and bars, parties are limited to no more than eight people. Self-service areas are prohibited. Meals served at wedding receptions and funeral luncheons must be served by caterers or venue staff.

Team sports practices and games may continue under the statewide sports reopening guidelines. Religious services are allowed, but items should not be shared or distributed between people. Daycare facilities are allowed to remain open.

The DHM also ask individuals to self-isolate for at least 10 days if they test positive for COVID-19 or show symptoms. Individuals who have had close contact with a person who has the virus should quarantine at home for 14 days from the date of the last exposure to the person with COVID-19.

Criminal or civil action can be taken against individuals or businesses that do not comply with the order.

There have been 160 positive cases of COVID-19 and two deaths in Cass County as of Monday, according to the Sarpy/Cass County Health Department. The risk dial is very near the top end of moderate, with a risk score of 1.88 on July 27, up from 1.75 on July 20.

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