Testing slots remain available for COVID-19 testing Thursday, Friday

Testing for TestNebraska is underway in Scottsbluff. Public health officials showed a map of the area where the testing will occur and the route that drivers are asked to follow on 16th Street and Avenue A. 

Slots remain available for coronavirus testing being done by TestNebraska in Scottsbluff Thursday and Friday.

There are 300 testing slots available each day, Panhandle Public Health District Director Kim Engel said Wednesday during the daily briefing the organization has been holding since March. For Thursday, she said, 160 slots remain available.

“Please take the assessment and perhaps you will hit the criteria to receive a slot.”

Testing will take place at the PPHD offices, 18 W. 16th St., in Scottsbluff, from 8 to 11 a.m. and 3 to 6 p.m.

In order to be signed up to take a test, persons must take the assessment at TestNebraska.com. The assessment is short and asks questions about a person’s exposure and possible symptoms. Prioritization of slots for symptomatic and high-risk individuals is in place, but other persons may be invited to take the test.

Persons without a computer can contact PPHD, 308-262-5764, for assistance.

With a lot of complaining on social media about restrictions and guidelines, Engel reminded people that social distancing guidelines and other steps are being taken to protect the public. The topic came up as one of the participants in the call asked about the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s limitations on swimming at its facilities, as well as other limitations of camping and other things. Engel explained, as Nebraska Game and Parks Commission officials have, that the main purpose is to control the size of crowds and limit opportunities for exposure, such as keeping restrooms closed or limiting the number that are available at a site.

The restrictions are only temporary, and activities such as kayaking, fishing and others remain available at state parks and recreation areas. As limitations and guidelines are reviewed, along with comparisons to health needs in districts, relaxation will be considered.

“I really want to challenge everyone in the Panhandle to show them that we are orderly people and that we can handle these things, manage them, and we can still have fun this summer,” she said.

The cases of coronavirus in the Panhandle continue to increase, though only gradually. Scotts Bluff County Health Director Paulette Schnell said one more case of the coronavirus was reported in Scotts Bluff County, a teen girl. Scotts Bluff County continues to have the highest incidence of cases, with 55 cases reported since March 2. Currently 17 cases are active and 38 have recovered.

In the Panhandle, a total of 87 persons have tested positive and 63 have recovered. A total of 24 cases are active: 2 in Cheyenne County, 5 in Morrill County, and the Scotts Bluff County cases.

PPHD officials reminded the public that there is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person: Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet); Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks; and that these droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.

PPHD continues to recommend steps to “keep Nebraska healthy,” following recommendations by the state and Gov. Pete Ricketts’ in the “Stay Home. Stay Healthy. Stay Connected” campaign.

Some of those steps:

— Wear a mask when possible.

— Wash your hands frequently. Wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds and sanitize when available.

— Monitor your symptoms. If you experience a cough, fever, shortness of breath, headache, sore throat, chills, muscle pain or loss of taste or smell, call your doctor, clinic or PPHD’s 24/7 line, 308-262-5764.

— Socially distance in public in and at work. Use the 6-foot rule as much as possible.

— Stay home. Do not take unnecessary trips outside the home. Non-essential out-of-state travel is discouraged and 14-day quarantines remain recommended. Respect the 10-person limit.

— Shop alone and only once a week. Help seniors by shopping for them.

— Help kids follow social distancing. Play at home. No group sports and no playgrounds.

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