Panhandle health officials announced 12 more cases of COVID-19 had been diagnosed Friday.

In Morrill County, six people tested positive. Five of the cases were identified as community spread: a woman in her 30s, a man in his 30s, a man in his 40s, and two men in their 60s. One case was identified as a man in his 20s. One man in his 20s has been identified as having contracted the virus through close contact.

Asked about the increase in cases in Morrill County, Kim Engel, Panhandle Public Health director, said that a couple of events had been held in the community and might possibly be tied to the cases, but that officials had not been able to identify a specific exposure that could be traced back as starting the cases.

Other positive cases included; three people in Scotts Bluff County who contracted the virus through close contact: a woman in her 30s, a man in his 40s and a man in his 80s. In Sheridan County, two women in their 50s were identified as community spread cases and a teen boy in Sioux County is identified as having contracted the virus through close contact.

There are currently 106 active cases in the Panhandle, with 6 hospitalizations.

To date, 279 people have tested positive since PPHD began tracking cases in March and 170 people have recovered. A total of 33 people have been hospitlized and three people, all elderly residents, have died.

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