COVID-19 is continuing to spread throughout the Panhandle, with the number of cases reaching 298 as of press time.

Since March 2, officials with the COVID-19 Unified Command have announced a total of 185 recoveries, and three deaths related to COVID-19. As of press time, there was one case in Banner County, which has recovered, three cases in Box Butte County, which have recovered, 20 cases in Cheyenne County with seven active and 13 recovered, two cases in Dawes County, which have recovered, four cases in Garden County, which have recovered, 11 cases in Kimball County with one active and 10 recovered, 36 cases in Morrill County with 22 active and 14 recovered, 211 in Scotts Bluff County with 76 active, 136 recovered and three deaths, four active cases in Sheridan County, and six cases in Sioux County, with four active and two recovered.

On June 30, officials with Unified Command released a statement regarding an employee of Gordon-Rushville Public Schools who had tested positive for COVID-19, noting an investigation conducted at the school. They determined no close contact with the employee was made at the school and that there are no concerns about the summer lunch program and the use of the weight room, which will continue to remain available.

“The school has remained committed to everyone’s health and safety through increased disinfecting and sanitizing practices, continuous reminders and prompts of social distancing, and frequent handwashing and/or sanitizing,” Michael Ziller, Gordon-Rushville Public Schools Board President said in a press release from Unified Command. “We anticipate as opportunities increase at the school and in our communities, we will work with Panhandle Unified Command to be as preventative as necessary for student, staff and community safety.”

Unified Command reminded people that taking measures to self-quarantine if they are considered to have been in close contact with an individual who tested positive is important to stop the spread of the virus.

“When an individual tests positive for COVID-19, a disease investigator contacts them to determine who they were around for the two days prior to symptom onset. During this part of the investigation, people identified as a “close contact,” defined as at least 15 minutes less than six feet apart in that timeframe, are then required to self-quarantine as an increased precaution. A disease investigator provides information on how to safely self-quarantine,” Unified Command said in a press release.

“If that close contact develops symptoms, they need to get tested for COVID-19. If they do not show any symptoms in that 14-day timeframe, the disease investigator then notifies them they can stop the self-quarantine measure. If a person gets tested and it is negative, testing is a point-in-time so they are still required to complete the remaining days of the self-quarantine as they can still develop symptoms and begin to expose others. This is why people in quarantine cannot return-to-work with a negative test, others could be exposed.”

Testing is available at the Community Action Health Center Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m., and is open to those who are symptomatic or who were in close contact with a positive case.

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