The word is spreading: Prevent the spread of COVID-19 | Hospital

“They will be wearing masks and we have lots of visitors coming into the area,” Engel said, also noting that this week is the Old West Balloon Fest and encouraging people to wear masks and social distance.

Engel and Scotts Bluff County Public Health Director Paulette Schnell said that gatherings are the most common ways that the spread of the coronavirus is occurring. Schnell said that community spread cases continue to increase, which means that officials are unable to determine exactly where a person may have contracted the virus as they are unable to identify a specific person who they may have had contact with. To date, 136 of 479 cases reported since March 2 are community spread cases in the Panhandle.

“It’s a good reason to take all those precautions when you are out and about,” Schnell said of the increase in community spread cases.

Testing in the area that is done through TestNebraska is continuing to average about four days before results are received, Schnell said. TestNebraska testing is available at Regional West Medical Center in Scottsbluff, Chadron Community Hospital, Gordon Memorial Hospital, Box Butte General Hospital and Sidney Regional West Medical Center. Sign up is available at

Earlier this week, Engel said that hospitals that are providing TestNebraska testing do receive supplies and materials for testing from the private company, which has contracted with the State of Nebraska to increase testing.

Ann C. Toledo

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