Digital Exclusive: Dakota County Health Department announces COVID-19 Risk Dial

Local News

DAKOTA CITY, Neb. (KCAU) – Dakota County Health Department (DCHD) has released a COVID-19 Risk Dial on Tuesday morning.

The risk dial provides a summary of the current conditions in the county.

“The risk dial is a quick way to look to see the color of where our community spread is currently at. It gives people a great idea of the spread within our community limitations that they can take in their house, or out of their house in their community,” said Natasha Ritchison, Director of the Dakota County Health Department.

There are four levels on the risk dial, to detect community spread: green for low risk, yellow for moderate risk, orange for high risk, and red for severe risk.

“It will be updated every Monday. We have to compile the data for a week in order for it to be up-to-date and accurate,” said Ritchison.

She mentions it takes a lot of different factors into configuring where the needle sits on the dial that includes the following:

  • ICU bed availability
  • Ventilator availability
  • Rate of positive cases in the last 14 days
  • The number of cases in the last week
  • Overall positivity rate
  • Ability to do contact tracing in 24 hours
  • Identify community clusters
  • Testing availability

Ritchison said the importance of the dial for the community is to take the focus off of the overall numbers.

“I think that it’s really important for our community specifically because we saw a large spike in cases back in April and May and even into June. We have really calmed down on our cases, but that doesn’t mean it’s out of the area. So, it would be great if the focus could be a little bit less on the overall numbers and more so [on just] glancing at a color and seeing where the community spread is at,” said Ritchison.

She said the reason the DCHD has released the dial is because it takes time to compile all the data and release it to the public.

As of July 23, Dakota County is in the yellow section of the risk dial.

The COVID-19 risk dial was created by the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD) and many health departments in Nebraska have already adapted the COVID-19 Risk Dial.

Those health departments in the state, besides DCHD and LLCHD, are:

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