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Continuing COVID Case Spike Pressures Contact Tracing Efforts

Continuing COVID Case Spike Pressures Contact Tracing Efforts

A continued increase in the number of new COVID-19 cases in the Panhandle is adding pressure to public health staff working hard to trace contacts of new cases.

Unified Command confirmed 235 more cases since last reporting on Monday, Oct. 19, with reporting tables changing due to the rapid influx of cases and the ability to report accordingly. Of those new cases, 20 were deemed community spread and 76 due to close contact, but the remaining 139, or 70% of the total new cases, remained under investigation.

Contact tracing is considered an effective disease control strategy that involves identifying cases and their contacts, and then working with them to stop or slow the disease spread.

Officials say the tracing efforts are critical to prevent the spread of COVID, and PPHD Director Kim Engel said her staff is working diligently with contact tracing but the increasing rate of new cases has posed some challenges. “We’ve had days where we are overwhelmed, these numbers are taxing, so please do your part (and) help us out. We’re trying to bring additional help on as fast as we can, but it’s pretty intense.”

PPHD has been advertising for contact tracers, however, Engel did say it does take a certain amount of time and training before new tracing staff are added to the mix. Details and applications can be found on the PPHD website.

Officials explained how the public can help and be proactive with contact tracing:

  • Practice critical COVID prevention:
    • Wear a mask
    • Stay at least six feet away from others
    • Frequently wash or sanitize your hands
    • Monitor for symptoms and immediately get tested and quarantine until results are received.
  • If you are confirmed COVID positive, when you are contacted by a trained investigator, please carefully identify anyone who is a close contact, less than six feet for a total of 15 minutes in the two days prior to symptoms starting. Please isolate at home until you are released from isolation.
  • If you are named in a disease investigation as a close contact and asked to quarantine, please follow this critical order and get tested immediately if you start to experience symptoms.

New case and recovery details:

Children 19 & Under: 46
County Cases
Banner 1
Box Butte 16
Cheyenne 1
Dawes 2
Deuel 1
Scotts Bluff 23
Sheridan 2


Adults: 189
County Cases
Box Butte 32
Cheyenne 7
Dawes 8
Deuel 2
Garden 1
Kimball 4
Morrill 1
Scotts Bluff 121
Sheridan 11
Under Investigation 2


Unified Command confirms 76 more recoveries in the Panhandle.

Recovered: 76
County Cases
Banner 1
Box Butte 11
Cheyenne 6
Dawes 6
Deuel 2
Garden 1
Grant 0
Kimball 3
Morrill 4
Scotts Bluff 33
Sheridan 4
Sioux 5


March 2-October 22, 2020

  • Total Tests Conducted: 17,739
  • Positive: 1,631
  • Cumulative Positivity Rate: 8.5%
  • Recovered: 1,086
  • Active Cases: 534
  • Deaths: 11
  • Active Hospitalizations: 24
  • Total Cumulative Hospitalizations: 126
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