Four schools in the Panhandle have been affected by COVID-19 as of Tuesday.

The superintendent of Chadron Public Schools reported four cases in the district involving school staff members.

Gordon-Rushville Public Schools announced one staff member as a presumptive positive case.

“This continues to stress the importance of mask-wearing, especially when social distancing is difficult to maintain,” Unified Command’s most recent press release said. “Two recent school incidents have conveyed the importance of mask wearing. Had this critical COVID-19 prevention tool not been implemented, it could have delayed the start of school because a large number of staff would have been required to self-quarantine.”

On Monday night, a Gering High School student became the first positive case involving a student in the Panhandle during the new school year.

Gering High School is working with contact tracing officials to determine possible exposure cases. Health officials will notify those who may need to self-quarantine.

On Tuesday three Chadron State College employees and three pupils tested positive for coronavirus. All six are currently self-isolation according to CDC and PPHD regulations.

Since March there have been 504 cases with 64 active cases, 434 recovered cases and six deaths, as of press time.

On Aug. 11, Unified Command announced two new cases in Box Butte County involving adults. One case was determined to be caused by close contact with a previously positive case and the other new case was caused by a community spread.

On Aug. 12 a previously announced positive case was changed to recovered.

On Aug. 14 Unified Command reported another positive case that was determined to be a cause of community spread. In the press release officials confirmed three new recovery cases in Box Butte County.

As of Aug. 17 Box Butte County has witnessed 17 positive cases with 14 recovered and three active cases, respectively. A new positive case was announced on Monday and is a result of close contact with a previously positive case.

Unified Command recommends safety precautions to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Precautions include wearing a mask, thorough hand washing or sanitizing and maintaining social distancing when possible.

“If a person is confirmed positive for COVID-19 and has been in close contact with another person, as long as both individuals are wearing a mask, the positive case will be required to self-isolate and the close contact will not be required to self-quarantine only monitor for symptoms,” Unified Command’s press release said.

Free testing in Box Butte County is available through testnebraska,com or by calling (402) 207-9377. Testing is conducted at Box Butte General Hospital in Alliance Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Tests will be given in the ambulance bay on the east side of the emergency department.

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