The Nebraska National Guard held a testing event on May 6, 2020 in McCook hosted by Southwest Nebraska Public Health Department (SWNPHD) that screened 87 people for COVID-19. An additional testing event is planned for Ogallala on May 8, 2020. The Guard staff at these events are a combination of medical professionals from several different units of the Air and Army National Guard.
The testing is done as a drive-thru, with Guardsmen in protective equipment and the individuals being tested not leaving their vehicles, which reduces the risk of transmission. The Guardsmen are testing individuals for current COVID-19 infection; it does not tell if someone has antibodies for COVID-19.
The results of these tests are still pending; however, an additional confirmed case of COVID-19 has been reported in SWNPHD’s district – a male in his 50’s in Red Willow County, due to direct contact. This brings the total for the health district to 12 confirmed cases. Many of the initial cases are now recovered. A summary of these cases is as follows:
|Case #||Age||County||Gender||Exposure Type||Recovered|
|1||30 to 39||Red Willow||Male||Community||Yes|
|2||20 to 29||Furnas||Male||Travel||Yes|
|3||20 to 29||Furnas||Male||Direct Contact||Yes|
|4||40 to 49||Red Willow||Male||Community||Yes|
|5||40 to 49||Furnas||Female||Travel||Yes|
|6||30 to 39||Frontier||Female||Direct Contact||Yes|
|7||60 to 69||Hitchcock||Male||Community|
|8||30 to 39||Red Willow||Female||Direct Contact||Yes|
|9||80 +||Red Willow||Male||Community|
|10||50 to 59||Keith||Female||Community||Yes|
|11||60 to 69||Furnas||Female||Direct Contact|
|12||50 to 59||Red Willow||Male||Direct Contact|
As seen in other areas of the state, when more testing is being done the number of positive cases is expected to go up as well. SWNPHD recommends continuing to follow social distancing guidelines to protect you and the communities around you. Recommendations for individuals, families, and communities are listed on swhealth.ne.gov.
It is also important to take care of your mental wellbeing; stress and anxiety are common feelings among many people during the pandemic. It may help to take a break from news and social media, do activities you enjoy at home, and follow a familiar routine. There are mental health hotlines that can offer more suggestions and assistance for Nebraskans:
- Nebraska Family Helpline: 1-888-866-8660
- Nebraska Rural Response Hotline: 1-800-464-0258
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
DHHS also has a statewide coronavirus (COVID-19) information line to help answer general questions and share the latest information and resources with Nebraskans to help keep them informed. The number is (402) 552-6645; hours of operation are 8 a.m.-8 p.m. CST, 7 days a week.
For more information on COVID-19 in southwest Nebraska, visit swhealth.ne.gov. You can also follow SWNPHD on Facebook and Twitter. SWNPHD serves Chase, Dundy, Frontier, Furnas, Hayes, Hitchcock, Keith, Perkins and Red Willow counties. SWNPHD is located at 404 West 10th St (1 block north of Arby’s) in McCook or at 501 Broadway in Imperial (5th St. entrance).