The Lincoln-Lancaster Health Department reported Thursday that three more people have died of COVID-19.
The deaths were a man in his 60s who was hospitalized and vaccinated, a man in his 80s who was hospitalized and unvaccinated and a woman in her 90s who was not hospitalized and not vaccinated. That raises the number of deaths in the county to 273.
The Health Department also reported 179 new cases Thursday. There are 86 people in Lincoln hospitals. Of those, 61 are from Lancaster County.
Neighboring counties have also reported more deaths from the virus.
Six people have died during the past two weeks in the Public Health Solutions health district, which serves Fillmore, Gage, Jefferson, Saline and Thayer counties. Officials there said the individuals ranged in age from 33 to 94. Five of the six who died were men.
Of them, four were unvaccinated, while the other two were fully vaccinated.
In the five-county health district, 44.63% of residents have been fully vaccinated, with the health director urging more people to get inoculated.
"Vaccination is a personal choice and we respect that. Protecting yourself, your family, and those in your community from becoming severely ill is also a personal choice," Health Director Kim Showalter said in a statement.
"We urge all eligible residents in the district to become vaccinated. This is the best protection against becoming severely ill and requiring hospitalization if exposed to COVID-19."
The Greek alphabet of COVID-19 virus mutations
First identified in the United Kingdom, and later found in the U.S. in December 2020, alpha is considered a variant of concern by the CDC, which noted it might have increased severity based on hospitalization and fatality rates.
First identified in South Africa, this was detected in the U.S. at the end of January 2021. This is also considered a variant of concern by the CDC.
First noted in India before being detected in the U.S. in March 2021, the CDC notes this variant of concern’s increased transmissibility. Researchers are watching the delta variant carefully as it continues to spread.
Dr. Emily Landon, chief health care epidemiologist at the University of Chicago, said recently that the delta variant is “even more contagious than the alpha variant.”
What’s been referred to as “delta plus” is getting buzz. This has been reportedly detected in South Korea, India and the United States, and some believe it may be more transmissible than the original delta variant. Experts are watching and waiting, but some note it hasn’t yet gained momentum here. Also known as AY.1, it is included under the World Health Organization’s list of variants of concern.
Brazil was the first place this was detected, and it’s also been recorded in Japan. The CDC considers gamma a variant of concern; it was first detected in the U.S. in January 2021.
Although the Epsilon variant is included on the Illinois health department’s website, a spokeswoman said it would be soon taken off the “variants of concern” list as it is not considered one by the CDC. The CDC lists the Epsilon variant, which includes multiple mutations, as a variant of interest.
The World Health Organization and CDC defines this as a variant of interest and noted it has been documented in multiple countries.
The WHO and CDC consider this a variant of interest. It was documented earliest in the U.S.; according to the CDC, the first detection was in New York.
This is also a variant of interest according to the WHO and CDC, with its earliest documentation in India in October 2020.
Initially spreading in Peru in December 2020, the lambda variant has so far been found in states including Texas and South Carolina. It is considered a variant of interest by the World Health Organization.