More opportunities for testing will be available starting next week as Panhandle Public Health District and Community Action Health Center (CAPWN) work together to expand testing in western Nebraska.

Panhandle health officials announced Friday that testing will be offered at Community Action Health Center, located in Gering, three days a week. Testing will be available from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m., Monday, Wednesday and Friday, for persons who are symptomatic or have been exposed to the coronavirus.

“This is a great opportunity,” Tabi Prochazka, of Panhandle Public Health Partnership, said of the regular testing. “...This is a great opportunity for free testing. (We) really want to make sure people have the resources that they need, it’s quick and easy.”

People should make an appointment online, tinyurl.com/Y8P6YUO2. The website address will be available on the CAPWN website or on PPHD’s website, pphd.org.

People continue to be asked to self-guarantine if they think they have been exposed or they are experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus. People do not have to wait for these opportunities to get tested for coronavirus. They can contact their doctor to schedule an appointment, and should, especially if they live outside of Scottsbluff-Gering.

Testing via TestNebraska will continue this weekend, with testing planned in Oshkosh on Saturday and in Sidney on Sunday, Panhandle Public Health Director Kim Engel said.

Spots continue to be available and people can take an assessment online to determine if they qualify for testing.

Testing is not limited to just those who live in a certain community, Engel said.

“If you live in another community and maybe you missed an opportunity to test earlier this week, please go to TestNebraska.com, and you choose which site you’d like to go to and sign up,” she said.

Results of tests from 28 tests done in Chadron earlier this week have been returned, and no one tested positive. Testing was done in Alliance (26) on Thursday and in Scottsbluff on Friday. One hundred ninety people were tested at a drive-thru site in Scottsbluff and others at additional sites were also tested, Engel said.

As of Friday, there are 86 active cases of the coronavirus in the Panhandle. Seven people in Scotts Bluff County are the latest to have tested positive for the coronavirus: two teen girls, three women in their 20s, a woman in her 30s and a man in his 30s. Officials were trying to determine the exposures for four of the cases and three of them had been identified as close contacts of persons who previously tested positive.

Scotts Bluff County continues to have the most cases in the Panhandle, with 79 currently active cases. Other counties with active cases are: Cheyenne County, two; Garden County, four; and Morrill County, one.

There are currently six people hospitalized and a total of 22 people have been hospitalized since PPHD began reporting testing on March 2. A total of 174 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the Panhandle and a of 3,144 people have been tested, with a cumulative positive rate of 5 percent, Engel said.

Precautions, such as wearing a mask and social distancing, continue to be reinforced by health officials during the daily calls.

Gov. Pete Ricketts decides each of the directed health measures, charging the local health districts with enforcing the health measures. Engel said that state officials are reviewing certain factors, such as ventilator and bed availability and ICU bed availability, in making those decisions. Hospitals must also have two weeks of personal protective equipment available as well.

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