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By Forrest Hershberger
Publisher Sidney Sun-Telegraph 

COVID Numbers Improve

Vaccine Availability Increasing


January 27, 2021 | View PDF

The COVID-19 risk dial continues to improve for the Panhandle region.

The current risk level is defined at 2.50, about the midpoint of the high risk range, the third highest of the four-point dial. Cheyenne County’s risk assessment is at 2.7. The city of Sidney is also assigned a risk level of 2.7.

As of the January 18 update, there have been 32,122 tests administered. Of that number, 8,238 returned positive. There have been 173 deaths attributed to COVID since records started. More than half of that number, 98, are attributed to close contact and 56 by community spread. The 70 to 79 age group registered the most deaths at 34, followed by 60 to 69 age group at 25, 11 in the 50 to 59 age group, and Ninety-nine of the deaths were male and 74 were female.

There were 270 new cases between Jan. 4 and Jan. 18. The positivity rate for the week of January 11-18 was 27.5. As of January 18, there were 16 hospitalizations. There have also been 4,600 vaccine doses administered.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts announced Friday, Jan. 22, that more than 120,000 vaccines had been administered statewide.

“We’re in Phase 1A in four of our local public health districts. We’ve moved to Phase 1B

in 15 of the districts,” Ricketts said.

He said as the state enters Phase 1B, officials are expecting 90 percent of the vaccines will be administered to people 65 years of age and older. He added the mortality rate shows the 65-plus age group is the most vulnerable to the coronavirus

“We’re prioritizing this group to protect older Nebraskans,” he said. Ricketts expects Phase 1B to take several weeks.

Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services Incident Commander Angie Ling, in addressing the coronavirus vaccine, said the state had a small increase in allocations.

“We received 11,700 primary doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 11,800 primary doses of the Moderna vaccine,” she said. “We anticipate all long-term care facilities receiving their first dose of vaccine by the end of the month.”

Panhandle residents under 65 with medical conditions are being asked to wait to sign up for the COVID vaccine until the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) vaccine registration is available. This will be within the next week or so.

Panhandle Public Health District is asking anyone 65 or older and interested in receiving the COVID vaccination to complete the following form: The online link completion is preferred, people can call 308-262-5764 or 308-633-2866 ext. 101. As of Jan. 25, 6,321 people have signed up for a vaccine. The PPHD anticipates Phase 1b going into May 2021. When vaccines are available, appointments will be scheduled, and individuals will be called days ahead. As of Jan. 25, 4,648 Panhandle residents have received the COVID vaccine. Health care personnel, long-term care, and those 75 and older are currently being vaccinated. Panhandle long-term care facility residents receiving the COVID vaccine are 4th highest in the state with 84.5 percent that have received their first dose.

COVID vaccinations are also available at the Scottsbluff Community-Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) for veterans enrolled in the VA Health Care system. Vaccinations are by appointment only, no walk-ins. Call 308-225-5330 for appointment scheduling.

Transportation for COVID vaccinations or to get COVID tested is available by contacting Project Connect at 308-761-8747.

Unified Command confirms 64 more cases of COVID in the Panhandle since last reporting on Thursday, January 25. The investigations are underway, all close contacts will be quarantined.

Ling added the federal pharmacy program continues with about 428 facilities having received their first doses, and second doses starting in clinics this week. The State’s Vaccine Registration and Administration System went live this week as well.

Test sites include Sidney Regional Medical Center’s Walk-In Clinic 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; Morrill County Community Hospital in Bridgeport offering same-day results, Regional West Health Services Center in Scottsbluff, Community Action Health Center in Gering 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. Tuesday through Thursday.

The Department of Health and Human Services reported Jan. 19 statewide numbers were at 183,318 with 59 COVID-related deaths in the previous seven days for a total of 1,850. Numbers have slowly increased from 1,603 COVID-related deaths on December 29, 1,692 January 5, and 1,791 on Jan. 12.

As of Jan. 19, 127,221 Nebraskans who tested positive for COVID-19 have recovered.

The DHHS also reports the number of hospitalizations continue to decline, although still elevated. Nebraska hospitals averaged 444 COVID-19 patients per day between Jan. 12 and Jan. 19. Averages in prior weeks were 481, 522, and 528.


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