Panhandle Edging Toward High COVID-19 Threat, State Tops 11,000 Active CasesPosted by John AxtellDate: September 29, 2020536 ViewsThe Panhandle Public Health District’s COVID-19 Risk Indicator Dial remains in the yellow or moderate category this week, but it’s closer than it’s ever been to the orange or high category. Deputy Director of Health Promotions and Preparedness Tabi Prochaska says several factors led to the higher reading, led by the 159 new COVID-19 cases in the Panhandle over the last 3 weeks. Other factors include the weekly positivity rate on coronavirus tests rising from under 5% three weeks ago to 15% this past week, and the number of ICU beds available dropping below 30% over the same time frame. PPHD director Kim Engel says the Panhandle is once again following the pattern of increases in the eastern part of the state, just several weeks later. Panhandle Unified Command reported 15 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, but also 25 recoveries, dropping the number of active cases to 81. The Panhandle has had 869 cases, 779 recoveries, and 9 deaths since the pandemic began. A total of 14,052 tests have been given in the region with a 6.2% positivity rate. Dawes County added 1 case and 4 recoveries over the weekend to push those counts to 128 cases, 122 recoveries, and just 4 active cases Chadron State College remains at 47 cases – 41 of them students – but with just 1 active case, also a student. All 15 cases in the Chadron Public Schools have recovered, but 4 students or staff are now in quarantine. The number of COVID-19 cases in Nebraska continues to jump. There were 515 more yesterday for a total of 44,578. There were also 2 more deaths to push that count to 472. The number of recoveries rose by 263 to 33,087, including 214 who are hospitalized, pushing the number of active cases over 11,000 to 11,019. The number of available ICU beds in Nebraska hospitals remained at 34% yesterday with 37% of all hospital beds and 79% of ventilators also still available.