class="post-template-default single single-post postid-499842 single-format-standard group-blog masthead-fixed full-width singular wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-6.4.1 vc_responsive"

PPHD: Dip in Virus Positivity Rate a Good Sign but Risk Dial Still Red

PPHD: Dip in Virus Positivity Rate a Good Sign but Risk Dial Still Red

Officials with Panhandle COVID Unified Command Monday expressed guarded optimism as some statistical measures of infections in the region continued to improve, but cautioned everyone needs to maintain preventative efforts to slow virus spread.

153 new cases were reported since the previous report last Friday, with weekly positivity at 43. percent, hospitalizations at 67 and the doubling time for new cases reaching 27 from Nov. 2-29.

Panhandle Public Health Director Kim Engel noted the weekly positivity rate peaked Nov. 1 and has dropped steadily until plateauing since late last week, and daily confirmed new cases have been declining since Nov. 12, both of which were positive signs. “This could mean that we’re all doing a better job of using non-pharmaceutical interventions, like wearing a mask, social distancing and staying home if you’re sick, and we’re banking on that, that that’s what happening in the Panhandle,” said Engel, “However, it could also mean folks aren’t getting tested, and that would be a disguise of the situation getting better when it really isn’t.”

However, the number of deaths related to the virus in the Panhandle is expected to rise by a significant amount, as it was disclosed there were 24 deaths with a preliminary COVID designation awaiting official confirmation from the state.

In addition, the risk dial for the Panhandle remained in the red category, but did drop slightly since a week ago.  In addition, Sheridan County and the communities of Hay Springs and Bridgeport moved into the orange spread risk category.

Officials also noted that winter sports practices and activities have been happening for the past few weeks. As games and competitions are nearing, the Nebraska School Activities Association and the Governor’s Directed Health Measure outline the following requirements for student, staff, and attendee safety:

  • Participant households are only being allowed entry, they must sit as a household group at least six foot from other household groups. Attendees must also be on the school list to gain entry. Each school may have a specific limit.
  • Masks are required, if anyone fails to comply they will be expected to leave.
  • There may be specific guidance from the host school, it is important that participants and attendees abide by that guidance.
  • Please respect the host school’s capacity requirements.
  • If anyone is experiencing any symptoms of illness, please do not attend.

Youth sports and activities are being encouraged to implement precautions as well. It’s important to remember, these safety precautions are critical for the continuity of winter sports and activities.

New case information (recoveries are available on the Panhandle dashboard at

All Ages: 153
County Cases
Banner 0
Box Butte 20
Cheyenne 32
Dawes 9
Deuel 4
Garden 0
Grant 0
Kimball 5
Morrill 8
Scotts Bluff 71
Sheridan 4
Sioux 0


Exposure Type
Community 43%
Close Contact 35%
Travel 0%
Under Investigation 22%


March 2-November 30, 2020

  • Total Tests Conducted: 26,712
  • Positive: 5,992
  • Weekly Positivity Rate: 43.8%
  • Recovered: 3,504
  • Active Cases: 2,438
  • Deaths: 50
  • Active Hospitalizations: 67
  • Total Cumulative Hospitalizations: 390
  • Last week’s cases: 541
  • Doubling time (November 2-29): 27 days

Avoid the Three Cs:

    • Avoid Crowded Places – Avoid gathering in groups where you cannot maintain 6-feet of distance from others
    • Avoid Close Contact – Wear a mask over your nose and mouth or maintain 6-feet distance when you are spending more than 15 total minutes with people you don’t live with
    • Avoid Confined Spaces – Avoid enclosed spaces with poor ventilation

Testing information and access for the Panhandle area:

  • You can sign up for the following free testing at or 402-207-9377:
    • Box Butte General Hospital in Alliance: Monday-Friday, 9-10am
      • 212 East 24th Street
    • Chadron Community Hospital: Mondays & Fridays, 7-9am
      • 821 Morehead Street (Old Hospital ER Entrance next to Wilson Park)
      • Other testing opportunities for symptomatic patients may be available through the hospital as ordered by your Primary Care Practitioner, call the hospital at 747-2466 with questions.
    • Gordon Memorial Hospital: Tuesdays & Thursdays, 2-4pm
    • Regional West Health Services in Scottsbluff: Mondays, Wednesdays, & Fridays: Noon-3pm; Call 308-630-2100 for other testing opportunities for symptomatic patients.
    • Sidney Regional Medical Center: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, & Thursdays, 7-9:30am
  • Community Action Health Center in Gering: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, & Thursdays, 7-8am
  • Alliance Community Pharmacy in Alliance: Monday-Friday, 7:30am-6pm; Saturday-Sunday, 9am-5pm
    • For people experiencing symptoms, same day results. Call 308-629-1045 for appointment, fee is $125.
  • Morrill County Community Hospital in Bridgeport: Daily
    • Call 308-262-1616 for testing, same day results, insurance can be billed.
  • Contact your local hospital or clinic for information on testing access.
© 2021 Nebraska Rural Radio Association. All rights reserved. Republishing, rebroadcasting, rewriting, redistributing prohibited. Copyright Information