Panhandle COVID-19 Death Rate Over Twice The State AveragePosted by John AxtellDate: March 17, 2021859 Views The Panhandle Public Health District says the region’s COVID-19 death rate is more than twice that of the state average, 2.15% compared 1.04%. PPHD Director Kim Engel says there are multiple factors responsible for the higher fatality rate, but the biggest is age. The average age in the Panhandle is higher than for the state and the percentage of residents over 70% is also higher, and age is the biggest predictor of outcome for COVID-19. Engel says the combination of new COVID variant increasing the chances of spread and the Panhandle’s high case fatality rate makes it that much more important that residents get vaccinated. The Panhandle is currently vaccinating residents ages 50 and older and employees in Phase 1B professions. Individuals who haven’t registered for shots can do so online at vaccination.ne.gov. The PPHD’s Covid-19 Risk Dial is unchanged for the 3rd straight week, staying in the yellow or moderate range about a sixth of the way down from the orange or high category. The current risk level remains 1.83.