Panhandle Public Health District Director Kim Engel says free at-home COVID testing will soon be widely available in the region.
Nebraska Health and Human Services is providing at-home COVID tests to state residents and PPHD is organizing locations in communities for easy access. Engel says those locations will be announced as soon as possible.
Once picked up, individuals can perform the test on their own or be helped through a video call. If done through the video call, you will receive a certified lab report that can be used for travel, medical procedures, and other documentation needs.
Engel says COVID testing is a key to slowing transmission and having at-home tests on hand means if someone in the household shows a minor symptom that could be COVID, you can have firm information to decide if medical attention is appropriate.
The Panhandle had 697 new confirmed cases with a 22.2% positivity rate in the week ending Wednesday morning. 423 of the cases were in Scotts Bluff County and 91 in Box Butte. Dawes had 18 cases and Sheridan County 22.
The Panhandle has had 18,153 confirmed cases and 794 hospitalizations since the start of the pandemic. There are currently 20 COVID hospitalization in the region.
8 more COVID-related deaths were reported over the last week, all individuals 60 or older and 5 of them over 80. The Panhandle has now had 278 COVID deaths with another 20 pending verification of cause.
Statewide, nearly 58% of eligible Nebraskans are fully vaccinated compared to less than 41% in the Panhandle.
Vaccination rates vary greatly by age both statewide and in the region. There’s a 75% rate in the Panhandle and 85% statewide among those 65 and older, but that drops to 53% and 68% for those 50-to-64.
The rates are 42% and 57% for those 30-to-50 and 27% and 41% from 16-to-29 year olds. Only 8.7% of Panhandle youth 15-and-younger have been fully vaccinated with the statewide rate only slightly better at 13.6%.