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PPHD reports three new COVID-19 cases in the Panhandle

PPHD reports three new COVID-19 cases in the Panhandle

453 tested for coronavirus at six drive-thru sites

Nebraska National Guard Team 6 member SPC Wesley Tannehill sanitizes his face shield as he and a team of about 20 team members prepared to start testing for COVID-19 Sunday, May 10, at the 21st Century Training Center in Bridgeport. Additional sites have been scheduled in the Panhandle.

Three new cases of COVID-19 were announced on Friday, along with the results of a recent broadband survey conducted by Unified Command.

Two cases, a man in his 30s in Cheyenne County and a teenage male in Scotts Bluff County were determined to be close contacts. A teen male who tested positive in Dawes County was determined to be a case of community spread.

Panhandle Public Health District Director Kim Engel confirmed the Dawes County positive was a test taken during a TestNebraska event in Chadron earlier this week. During the drive-thru testing, a total of 57 swabs were collected. Engel was unsure if all the tests had been returned on Friday afternoon.

Drive-thru testing in Alliance on Thursday resulted in the collection of 55 swabs and 86 were collected on Friday in Scottsbluff. Additional drive-thru testing will take place in Scottsbluff Saturday from 8 a.m. until noon at PPHD, 18 W. 16th Street. On Sunday, testing will be conducted in Sidney from 8 a.m. until noon at Sidney Regional Medical Center, 1000 Pole Creek Crossing.

In order to be tested, individuals must visit to take the assessment and receive an appointment time.

“If you’ve had any close contact with a positive case, or have any symptoms, please make sure to get tested while its in town at no cost to you,” said Tabi Prochazka, deputy director of health promotions and preparedness.

Since March 2, there have been 234 positive cases, with 142 of them having recovered. Currently, 90 cases are active. There have been a total of 28 hospitalizations, with four patients currently in the hospital. Two people have died in the Panhandle.

Officials also shared the results of a recent survey regarding broadband companies. The survey was conducted to gather information for the Rural Broadband Remote Access Grant.

Broadband services providers can apply for the grant to provide service with a minimum of 25 mbps download and 3 mbps upload speeds in eligible communities.

A total of 373 surveys were completed, with answers coming in from throughout the Panhandle. Of respondents, 231 lived in town, 117 are in the country and 11 provided no response regarding their location.

When asked if their provider met minimum upload and download speed requirements, 237 said yes, 104 said no and 22 did not respond.

Nine people opted not to respond when asked if they consistently experience down times or connection problems, while 142 said yes and 210 said no.

When asked if there were times throughout the day where there was a poor or no connection, 144 said yes, 204 said no and 11 didn’t respond.

Respondents were questions about whether they, employees or students can effectively work and learn remotely with their current provider, with 222 responding yes, 124 saying no and 15 not responding.

They were also asked if their current provider is involved in the community and supportive and 185 respondents said yes, 159 answered no and 17 did not provide a response.

Assistant Panhandle Community Wellness Coordinator Jessica Davies said the question had the option to expand on the answer.

“There was honestly a whole slew of very positive comments,” she said.

Among them were mentions of sponsorships, fundraising, donations to community organizations, employee involvement and the work that was done to provide service when schools shut down.

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

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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

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