Department of Health Launches New COVID Color Code System; this shows that we are halfway to the point where the mask mandate needs to be considered | News, Sports, Jobs

photo by: Ashley golledge

A sign indicates the new COVID-19 vaccination center behind the wheel of LMH Health on Tuesday, December 15, 2020.

Color codes are back.

Douglas County’s COVID status is in a code yellow – the second of three severity levels – according to a new system announced Wednesday by the local health department.

More importantly for some, the county has around 25 new cases a day as soon as local health officials resume pushing for a community-wide mask mandate. As it is, masks are recommended but not required for indoor activities. The new system also recommends eating out rather than eating indoors while we are in code yellow and suggests gatherings with smaller groups.

“We wanted to get this information out now to give people a sense of how we’re seeing things right now,” said George Diepenbrock, spokesperson for Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health.

Where health officials are seeing it now is that the number of new cases added each day is concerning, although the total number of active cases in the community still remains at a relatively low level.

Over the past two weeks, Douglas County has recorded an average of 26.5 new cases per day, according to updated statistics from the Department of Health. It is this increasing level of new cases per day that has Douglas County in a code yellow. Whenever new cases average between 25 and 50 new cases per day over a two-week period, the system requests that the county be placed in the yellow.

If the daily average reaches 50 or more new cases, the county will move to the red category, when the “community mask warrant review” begins. Reaching that threshold of 50 or more is still a bit far away, but the trend has not been positive.

“We were averaging about one case a day, and now we’re back,” Diepenbrock said.

On a more positive note, however, if the county could start to see a drop in the number of new cases per day, it could switch to code green fairly quickly, which is the lowest ranking in the system. The community would go green if the average number of new cases per day fell below 25 and the total number of active cases in the county fell below 500. The county is already below the threshold of 500 in active cases, although it is not. t be around for long at current rates.

The most recent number provided by the health department showed 477 active cases in the county.

The health ministry unveiled the new system on Wednesday after a few months without using a color-coded system to warn the public of levels of risk. As the school prepares to start over, health service chiefs have said they want a system that the public can easily monitor. However, unlike the previous color coding system, this one will not be used to make recommendations on how schools operate in a hybrid or remote format. Most districts have developed their own strategies for making these decisions.

General community members, however, may not have such a system to help them make decisions about what to do and what to avoid. Dan Partridge, director of public health for Lawrence-Douglas County, said he hopes this color-coding system can fulfill that role.

“We want to make sure that we give members of our community advice and tools to decide for themselves what it is safe to do as individuals, based on the amount of virus in the community and the speed at which it is spreading, ”he said via a press release. Release.

Here’s an overview of the three categories and the recommendations that go with them. Unless county commissioners approve a new public health order, the suggested restrictions would continue to be recommendations rather than legal mandates.

• Green: The community is green as long as the 14-day moving average of new cases is less than 25 and the number of cases is less than 500. In the green box, the health service indicates that unvaccinated people should always wear masks in public places, but vaccinated people can get exposed, attend larger gatherings, participate in team sporting events and take part in indoor meals.

• Yellow: The community is yellow as long as the 14-day moving average is between 25 and 50 cases per day or the number of active cases is between 501 and 1,000. In the yellow category, the health service indicates that the masks must be worn by vaccinated and unvaccinated people over 2 years old in indoor public places. He also recommends eating outdoors or socializing in small groups. He insists on wearing a mask and social distancing in fitness and leisure centers.

• Red: The community is red as long as the 14-day moving average of new cases is greater than 50 or the number of active cases is greater than 1,000. In the red category, the health department says it should be a community mask mandate, rather than just a recommendation for masks. He also recommends exercising alone, considering limiting contact in indoor locations by using delivery or pickup services, and limiting social gatherings to virtual options.

“We want to be able to give people data to make decisions that can be proactive and preventive, especially to protect the health care capacity of our community and the hospital system,” said local health worker Dr Thomas Marcellino, in the press release. “The most important thing anyone can do right now for themselves and for our community is get vaccinated and complete their round of vaccines if they haven’t. Vaccines offer the best protection against serious illness, especially with the Delta variant in circulation. ”

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