A fifth Scotts Bluff County resident has died as a result of COVID-19.

The woman, who was in her 70s, had underlying health problems, Scotts Bluff County Health director Paulette Schnell said during Thursday’s Panhandle Public Health District’s daily briefing.

One new case, a woman in her 40s who contracted the virus through community spread.

“We have 16 new recoveries,” said Schnell. “We’re excited about that.”

Of those, seven were in Morrill County and nine were in Scotts Bluff County. Out of a total 345 positive cases, 83 cases are active while 257 have recovered.

Panhandle Public Health Director Kim Engel noted that while Nebraska’s positive case numbers are dropping, the Panhandle isn’t out of the woods. Through the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Panhandle has been behind the rest of the state, she said.

“As a state as a whole, we’re coming down,” Engel said. “In our area, even though it looks like it’s down this last week, it’s still a little early to tell.”

The public is encouraged to continue following health recommendations, such a social distancing, handwashing and wearing masks.

“Like we say, every day, wear a mask when you can’t stay six feet away from others,” said Engel. “That’s the magic number.”

Individuals should also adhere to isolation and quarantine recommendations if they have tested positive or have been exposed to COVID-19. Those who seek information about recommendations or testing opportunities can visit pphd.org.

kamie.stephen@starherald.com

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Kamie Stephen is a reporter with the Star-Herald. She can be reached at 308-632-9041 or via email at kamie.stephen@starherald.com.

Kamie Stephen is a reporter with the Star-Herald. She can be reached at 308-632-9041 or via email at kamie.stephen@starherald.com.

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