The Two Rivers Public Health Department shared some good news this past week as the number of Covid cases has dropped significantly, moving the district from red to well into the orange on the risk dial. Positive cases in the community of Gothenburg have experienced a dramatic decrease from 44.4 per 1,000 residents the previous week to 19.10 last week.

On Dec. 24, Governor Pete Ricketts announced that the State was moving from the “yellow” to “blue” phase of its coronavirus pandemic response plan. As a result, the State of Nebraska issued new Directed Health Measures (DHMs) that went into effect that day.

The new DHMs now in effect include:

◆ Seating persons in groups of 8 or less returns to guidance for restaurants, bars, wedding/funeral receptions, and other venues.

◆ The requirement for individuals at bars and restaurants to be seated unless ordering food, using the restroom, or playing games returns to guidance.

◆ The maximum capacity for indoor gatherings goes from 50% to 75%.

◆ Elective surgeries can resume without restriction.

Note the word “guidance” used in each of these DHMs. In other words, these are no longer requirements but rather recommendations. Masks are no longer required at salons and barber shops, but are still encouraged.

Keep in mind, individual health districts may initiate stricter guidelines than the State’s DHMs if they believe they are warranted. Our district is now in the orange which does relax some of those guidelines. However, the City of Gothenburg has recently enacted a resolution which strongly encourages all residents to wear masks and maintain distance while in public. Many health experts say they believe the public’s willingness to abide by these practices is one reason we have seen a decline in numbers, and they urge everyone to keep it up.

Last week also saw the first round of Covid vaccine being given to frontline healthcare workers in Gothenburg. “As we move forward with getting Gothenburg Health employees vaccinated, we will be using guidelines set out by the State of Nebraska,” said a statement fromGothenburg Health. “These guidelines lay out the tiers the vaccine will be provided to healthcare workers, along with other groups of higher-risk individuals. The first round of employee vaccinations on Dec. 22 follows this detailed rollout from the CDC and DHHS. We are doing everything possible to ensure the vaccine rollout is efficient and inclusive but also in alignment with the regulations outlined by the State of Nebraska and the CDC.”

While it is unclear at this time just how many doses Gothenburg Health will receive they do know they are getting the Moderna vaccine which is a two-dose series 28 days apart. The vaccine will be distributed first to all healthcare workers as well as long-term care staff and residents.

All of this spells good news in the fight against Covid. As Dr. Carol Shackleton said, “There is light at the end of the tunnel.”

Contact Ellen Mortensen at ellen@gothenburgleader.com or call 308.537.9498