Box Butte County has officially seen its second confirmed coronavirus case after COVID-19 Unified Command announced a man in his 20s, who was a close contact of a previously positive case, was diagnosed on May 24. The total number of cases throughout the Panhandle rose to 100, with 66 recoveries as of press time.

On May 20, Unified Command confirmed that a woman in her teens tested positive for COVID-19 in Scotts Bluff County. She was determined to be a close contact of a previously positive case. Two additional cases in Scotts Bluff County were confirmed on May 21, involving a man in his 70s and a man in his 40s. The man in his 70s is believed to have contracted the virus from traveling, and the man in his 40s contracted it through community spread.

Scotts Bluff County saw two new cases of coronavirus on May 22 as a man in his 30s and a man in his 60s were confirmed to have tested positive. The case involving the man in his 30s is believed to be a case of community spread.

On May 24, nine new cases were confirmed. Of the nine cases, eight were in Scotts Bluff County, with the other case being Box Butte County’s second confirmed case. In the cases, four were determined to be community spread, including a man in his 70s, a man in his 60s, a woman in her 50s and a woman in her 40s.

The other four cases were determined to be close contacts of previously positive cases including a man and a woman in their 50s, a woman in her 40s and a woman in her 30s.

Over the past week, the state map which tracks the spread of COVID-19 showed two discrepancies, including two cases in Dawes County and one in Sheridan County. Unified Command officials confirmed there are no confirmed cases in Sheridan County, and only one in Dawes County.

Governor Pete Ricketts issued new Directive Health Measures for Nebraska citizens to help limit the spread of the coronavirus. Effective immediately, all individuals who are returning from international travel will be required to quarantine for 14 days upon their return. There is an exception in place for those traveling in connection with military service or employment at a health care facility.

On June 1, limited and non-contact team sports may begin practice, and may begin games on June 18. The sports allowed to resume include baseball, softball and volleyball. Rodeos will also be allowed to proceed on June 1.

Another change beginning on June 1 is that bars will be allowed to reopen as long as the following conditions are met: limitation of occupancy to 50 percent, requirement for patrons to remain seated unless they are using the restroom or placing an order, maintenance of six feet separation between different parties, with a maximum of six people per party, no consumption of food at the bar seating and prohibition of games such as pool or darts.

Gatherings will be limited to the greater of 25 people or 25 percent of rated occupancy on June 1. Parades, carnivals and beer gardens will remain prohibited until June 30. Gym access is to be limited to the greater of 25 people or 50 percent of the rated occupancy, with proper social distancing being followed.

Salons and barber shops will be limited to the greater of 25 people or 50 percent of rated occupancy, with workers and patrons being required to wear masks.

Wedding and funeral reception venues are to be limited to 50 percent of the rated occupancy, with a required separation of six feet between parties. Self-serve buffets and salad bars remain prohibited. Dances and other events that require guests to gather outside of their tables will be allowed.

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