Four hospitals have partnered with TestNebraska to expand testing for the coronavirus in the Panhandle.

Box Butte General Hospital and Regional West Health Services are offering testing daily, with Box Butte offering testing, 9 to 10 a.m. and Regional West 12 to 4 p.m. Testing at Box Butte Hospital will begin on Monday, Aug. 1. Chadron Community Hospital is offering testing on Mondays and Fridays, 7 to 9 a.m. and Gordon Memorial Hospital is offering testing Tuesday and Thursday, 2 to 4 p.m.

Persons interested in being tested sign up at testnebraska.com. Results are generally returned within 24 to 48 hours, though Panhandle Public Health District officials said earlier this week that testing results have been nearing an average of 72 hours.

Regional West and Chadron Community Hospital have been offering testing since earlier this month. PPHD director Kim Engel said officials would have to evaluate data to see if the hospitals signing on as TestNebraska partners has resulted in an increase in testing numbers. The presence of testing at the communities does likely improve accessibility, as many were counting on local physicians or testing sites offered by the Nebraska National Guard or TestNebraska in the early months of the pandemic. Testing is also free.

Community Action Health Center (CAPWN) has been offering free testing, which is offered Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, in recent months. Sign up is available online, https://tinyurl.com/y7msahzq.

Morrill County Community Hospital is also offering testing, which is billed to insurance or private pay. The Bridgeport hospital has been offering testing that provides same day results since May 28.

Officials said the Sidney hospital will soon be joining the facilities that are partnering with TestNebraska in the near future. Persons can also check with their local physician to be tested.

During Thursday’s briefing, officials announced four more new cases. Two cases were identified as close contacts of a person who previously tested positive, a Cheyenne County woman in her 20s and a Scotts Bluff County teen girl. One community spread case, a Scotts Bluff County man in his 50s, and one unknown case was a man in his 30s.

To date, 419 people have tested positive for the virus in the Panhandle, with 350 people having recovered. There are 63 active cases, with two persons hospitalized. Six people have died in the Panhandle. To date, Scotts Bluff and Morrill Counties have had the most cases, with Scotts Bluff County reporting 281 cases and Morrill County reporting 59 cases.

In its daily “myth” busting, people were also reminded that being in “hot” weather doesn’t mean that a person won’t contract COVID-19. Countries and states with hotter temperatures have also been experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks. The daily reminders about prevention strategies were also issues, with people reminded to wash their hands, social distance, and wear masks, particularly as they enjoy large events.

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