The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Forrest Hershberger
Sidney Sun-Telegraph 

Ricketts Expresses Confidence in COVID-19 Response


Forrest Hershberger

Nebraska restaurants were recently given the option of opening their dining rooms. Gov. Pete Ricketts relaxed the Directed Health Measures, allowing up to 50 percent of seating. The new DHM took place in the Panhandle May 4.

On May 4, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts. gave restaurants and cafes the go-ahead to offer limited dine-in seating, relaxing the previous Directed Health Measure (DHM) that had closed restaurants except for delivery, carry-out and curbside pickup.

The relaxing of the DHMs also allows massage parlors, hair and nail salons to reopen.

Since the change in DHMs, the State has also activated the Nebraska National Guard to assist in mobile COVID testing sites. Mobile testing was held in Sidney Saturday. Mobile testing was also held in Bridgeport and Alliance on Sunday, May 10, and Chadron and Gordon on Monday, May 11. According to the Panhandle Public Health District, the tests are COVID tests, not antibody tests.

The PPHD is reporting 73 confirmed cases from 1,259 tests in the Panhandle; 38 have recovered and no deaths have been attributed to COVID-19. As of May 11, Cheyenne County had nine cases with five recovered and out of isolation, Kimball County had 10 cases and all are out of isolation, Morrill County reported nine cases with one recovered and out of isolation, Scotts Bluff County reported 44 cases with 2 having recovered and out of isolation, Dawes County reported one case, and Box Butte County had one case that is recovered and out of isolation.

The largest number of new confirmed cases are in the 10 to 19 age bracket at a virtual tie with the 40 to 49 age bracket. According to the PPHD graphs provided, most of the cases are a result of close contact. A small percentage were contracted by travel or community spread, according to the PPHD. By gender, the cases are almost even with 39 female and 34 male testing positive.

Gov. Ricketts is also encouraging residents to take part in the assessment. The program is a way to conduct COVID-19 testing in Nebraska faster. The goal is to increase the rate of COVID-19 testing so Nebraskans can have better access to testing and help stem the spread of COVID-19, and return the state to normal as quickly as possible, according to the website.

Throughout the month of May, PPHD is reminding people to respect the following guidelines:

• Wear a mask when possible.

• Wash your hands frequently. Wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds and sanitize when available.

• Monitor your symptoms. If you experience a cough, fever, shortness of breath, headache, sore throat, chills, muscle pain, or loss of taste or smell call your doctor, clinic, or our 24/7 line at 308-262-5764 before going.

• Socially distance in public and at work. Use the six-foot rule as much as possible.

• Only sit with people from your household when at church. Stay six feet from other households.

• Stay home. Do not take unnecessary trips outside the home. Respect the ten-person limit. Non-essential out-of-state travel is discouraged.

• Shop alone and only shop once a week.  Do not take family with you.

• Help kids follow social distancing. Play at home. No group sports. And no playgrounds.

• Help seniors stay at home by shopping for them.  Do not visit long-term care facilities.

• Exercise daily at home or with an appropriately socially-distanced activity.

Panhandle Public Health District, Region 21, 22, and 23 Emergency Management, and Scotts Bluff County Health Department are working as a unified command on this evolving situation. Essential updates will be regularly communicated to the public and community partners.


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