Panhandle Close To High Risk For COVID-19; Box Butte County First In High Category Posted by John Axtell Date: October 05, 2020 941 Views The Panhandle’s COVID-19 Risk Dial inched close to the orange or high category this week and Box Butte County became the first to actually go into the orange. Box Butte County has had 115 cases with 92 recoveries and 1 death, leaving 22 active cases, but health officials say the total numbers aren’t the biggest concern. They’re more worried about a surge in cases over the past 3 weeks, a jump in the positivity rate to 21.8% the past 2 weeks – according to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the fact that community spread is cited in more than half of all the cases. Health officials urge all Panhandle residents but those in Box Butte County in particular to monitor for symptoms and get tested if they or anyone in their family begins experiencing symptoms. They also remind everyone to continue to follow the recommendations to slow the spread of COVID-19, including wearing a mask when possible, staying at least 6-feet away from others, monitoring for symptoms, and staying home when not feeling well. Meanwhile, Panhandle Unified Command says the region had 33 new cases from Friday to Monday along with 20 recoveries and no new deaths. That means there are 116 active cases, including 5 who are hospitalized. There have been 15,262 coronavirus tests in the Panhandle with a cumulative positivity rate of 6.3% but the positivity rate for the most recent week posted – Sept 27 – was 7% after hitting 15.8% the week before that. The usual target is 3%. Dawes County now has 142 cases, 131 recoveries, and 11 active cases including 4 at Chadron State College – 2 students and 2 staff. The college had 1 student recovery and one employee testing positive on Friday with 1 student testing positive on Sunday, bringing the totals since the pandemic began to 45 students and 8 staff. The CSC music department has several students and one faculty member quarantined. Tomorrow’s Community Band rehearsal was cancelled as a precaution.