In the Red

Local Health Dept. pushes COVID risk dial into new territory

LAUREL — Cedar County has been pushed into the red on the COVID-19 risk dial.

The scale has five varying degrees of risk from the coronavirus, ranging from green, or the safest, to red, or the most severe.

The move was made by the Northeast Neb. Public Health Dept. because of the increasing number of COVID-19 cases being recorded here.

Cedar County now has 338 coronavirus cases. On Monday, Nov. 16, the NENPHD reported 29 new cases over the weekend.

This is a sharp increase from just a few weeks ago.

At the start of November, Cedar County had nearly 100 fewer COVID cases as 240 cases were reported in the County on Nov. 3.

Wayne County leads the four-county Public Health Dept. District with 666 positive cases. Wayne County’s rapid increase has propelled the county into the national headlines. The New York Times last week listed Wayne County as one of the fastest spreading spots in the entire country.

Pushing the area into the Red portion of the COVID-19 health dial is beginning to trigger several new measures designed to limit the spread of the virus.

The state of Nebraska, as a whole, is in the Orange phase of the COVID dial. That increase has prompted Gov. Pete Ricketts to issue new Directed Health Measures.

The most recent Directed Health Measure will remain in place until at least Nov. 30.

It requires masks where staff and patrons are within six feet of each other for 15 minutes or more. The state is also requiring six feet of separation between parties at businesses, churches, restaurants/bars, gyms/fitness clubs, and other gatherings such as weddings and funerals. Many private funerals are being held with plans for a public celebration of life to be held in the future.

Additionally, occupancy is being reduced to 25 percent at indoor venues such as theaters, arenas, and large event conference rooms and attendance at youth extracurricular sports is being limited.

Fan attendance at high school and college sporting events and other extra curricular activities is now limited to household members.

All spectators must also observe six feet of social distancing.

Anyone patronizing a bar or restaurant must also observe new limitations.

All patrons must be seated and cannot be at a table of more than eight people. All tables must be at least six feet apart. All indoor gatherings are limited to 25 percent capacity, while only eight people can be seated next to each other and six feet of social distancing is required between groups.

Masks are required for staff and patrons at salons, barbershops, massage therapy, bowling alleys, pool halls, body art establishments, and any other indoor businesses where staff and patrons are within six feet of each other for 15 consecutive minutes or more.

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