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Increased COVID-19 spread leads to new restrictions in Lincoln

Published: Nov. 24, 2020 at 3:28 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 24, 2020 at 4:52 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department announced changes to the local Directed Health Measure (DHM) that will take effect at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.  The measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 will be in effect through December 18 and include the following:

  • Alcohol sales at bars that do not sell food are limited to carry-out.
  • Restaurants and bars that sell food must stop serving alcoholic beverages at 8:45 p.m. and must close at 9 p.m., but they may offer take-out and delivery for food and alcohol orders after 9 p.m.  These establishments must reduce occupancy to 50 percent, with parties of no more than eight spaced at least six feet apart.  No games such as pool or darts are allowed.  Patrons are to remain seated except to order or to use the restrooms and must wear masks when not seated.
  • Off-sale alcohol at bars and retail stores continues to be allowed per state law.
  • Gyms are limited to the greater of 25 percent occupancy or 10 people (excluding employees).  Individuals must maintain at least six feet of distance from others at all times, and no indoor contact or limited contact team sports like basketball or volleyball are allowed. This applies to all ages.
  • Indoor gatherings are limited to no more than 10 people, excluding employees. Gatherings in confined outdoor spaces are limited to no more than 25 people.  Exceptions – including schools, grocery and retail stores, offices and factories – are listed at COVID19.lincoln.ne.gov.

These existing measures remain in place:

  • All large events continue to be postponed.
  • Individuals must wear masks indoors unless no one else is in the same room and they can maintain at least 6 feet of separation from others at all times.
  • Indoor youth sports activities remain postponed until December 7, and this measure will be reevaluated before that date.
  • Religious gatherings, including weddings and funerals continue to be governed by the current State DHM.
  • Companies licensed to allow consumption of alcohol on city streets such as pedal pubs and party buses may not operate until after December 18.

For the third consecutive week, the COVID-19 Risk Dial remains in red, indicating that the risk of the virus spreading is severe.  Health Director Pat Lopez said these key indicators continue to move in the wrong direction:

  • The seven-day rolling average of new cases has increased from 124 at the end of October to 278 at the end of last week, a 125 percent increase.
  • The number of new weekly cases has more than doubled from 890 for the week ending October 31 to 1,861 the week ending November 21.
  • The weekly positivity rate has also more than doubled from 13.3 percent for the week ending October 24 to 27.4 percent the week ending November 21.
  • The number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized locally has increased from  84 on October 31  to 170 November 21.

“We have no indications that our case numbers, positivity rate, and hospitalizations have peaked.  We do not have reason to believe that things are going to get better without further action,” said Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird.  “We hear our health care professionals – the situation is critical. They need our support, and the only way we can protect our health care system is to turn these numbers around and prevent further illness that leads to hospitalizations.”

During the news conference Tuesday, Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird announced three more deaths due to COVID-19 bringing the numbers of deaths in the community to 73. Forty-nine of those deaths occurred in October and November. The COVID-19 deaths in the last two months have accounted for 67 percent of all the deaths in the community since the pandemic began.

Copyright 2020 KOLN. All rights reserved.

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