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

COVID Cases Surge in Panhandle


November 25, 2020 | View PDF

On Nov. 17, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts and the State's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gary J. Anthone, M.D., held a press conference regarding the increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases in the state.

By Friday, Nov. 20, Panhandle Public Health District reported COVID-19 related deaths had increased to 47 with the addition of five more deaths.

The new Panhandle deaths include a Cheyenne County man in his 70s, two Morrill County men ( one in his 60s and one in his 90s), a Scotts Bluff County man in his 60s and a Sheridan County man in his 90s.

“This is not the time to let our guard down so we all can remain safe during the COVID pandemic,” expressed Kim Engel, Panhandle Public Health District Director.

Ricketts cautioned that the state has experienced “a tremendous increase in hospitalizations over the past several weeks.” He said on Sept. 23, there were 200 coronavirus-related hospitalizations in the state. On Nov. 17, that number was 938.

“It's urgently important for all of us to take personal responsibility to support our healthcare workers, protect hospital capacity, and slow the spread of the virus,” Ricketts said.

He encouraged wearing a mask, washing hands often, staying home when sick, and keeping six feet of social distance. He has renewed his challenge for residents to maintain six feet of distance while in public, and to wear a mask when six feet of distance is not possible, and to stay home when sick.

The Mayo Clinic published an article stating that face masks “combined with other preventive measures, such as frequent hand-washing and social distancing, help slow the spread of the virus.” The article goes on to say a cloth mask is intended to trap droplets released when the wearer talks, coughs or sneezes.

“Asking everyone to wear cloth masks can help reduce the spread of the virus by people who have COVID-19 but don't realize it,” the report states.

The CDC recommends wearing a cloth face mask when around people who are not part of your household, and in public places where social distancing is difficult.

Medical NewsToday reports cloth masks are not designed to protect the wearer, but to help protect others from people who are positive but not yet showing symptoms. MedicalNewsToday quotes the World Health Organization saying masks can be a source of infection for the person wearing one. Referring to a 2017 study of 16 healthcare workers showed self-contamination common when the volunteers were putting on and removing medical-grade personal protective equipment.

The PPHD reports 24,667 tests conducted since March. Of those 5,212 were positive, 2,822 recovered and there are 2,343 active cases with 82 hospitalizations for a 20.7 positivity rate.


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