The risk of coronavirus continues to decline in the Panhandle, according to health officials during the weekly Panhandle Public Health District briefing.
Over the last week, the Panhandle has had 26 new cases of coronavirus, with cases in Box Butte, Dawes, Morrill, Scotts Bluff and Sheridan counties. Five deaths remain pending verification.
The positivity rate for the region is slightly up, at 8.1%. The risk dial has increased “a smidgen,” as PPHD director Kim Engel said, but there is good news in that all of the counties or communities are either in the yellow (moderate) or green (low) levels of the risk dial. Counties moving into the “low risk level” are Sioux, Banner, Garden and Deuel. On the community level, Harrison, Mitchell, Harrisburg, Hay Springs, Chappell, Big Springs and Oshkosh are all now in the low-risk level.
The number of persons in the Panhandle being vaccinated for COVID-19 continues to increase, with 25,253, or 38.5% of people in the Panhandle have been vaccinated in the Panhandle.
“We want everybody to know that there’s ample COVID vaccine supply in the Panhandle and appointments available,” Tabi Prochazka, PPHD deputy director of health promotions and prepardness, said.
As of Monday, vaccinations are available throughout the United States to people of all age groups, but they have been available to everyone for weeks now in the Panhandle. The Moderna vaccine is the commonly offered vaccine, though there is some Pfizer vaccine available. The Pfizer vaccine is expected to be widely available by the end of this month, which will allow teens, 16-years-old and 17-years-old to be vaccinated. Prochazka encouraged teens in that age group to sign up now at ne.vaccinate.gov in anticipation of the availability of the vaccine.
Signing up for a vaccine is also easier than ever. Vaccines are available at clinics and also at qualifying pharmacies through the Federal Pharmacy Program.
Panhandle residents 18 and older can self-schedule for their COVID vaccine with two easy steps:
— Register on the vaccinate.ne.gov website.
— For the corresponding counties, pick a location, day, and time that works for you. Dates and times will be added to the links as they are made available.
Garden: sign up at vaccinate.ne.gov – a provider will call you
A DHHS Information line is also available to assist those with limited technology, language or Internet access, and is available by calling 531-249-1873 or 833-998-2275.