After a scare a couple weeks ago, Dawes County received confirmation of the first official case of COVID-19 in the county.
Unified Command confirmed Monday the investigation is complete for the first case , which was announced May 8. There are no community exposure sites identified. Exposure is defined as at least 10 minutes, less than six feet apart.
All close contacts have been quarantined and are being actively monitored twice daily for fever and respiratory symptoms by public health officials.
Monday morning the Dawes County Fairgrounds saw plenty of activity and members of law enforcement and Nebraska National Guard oversaw the drive-thru testing site. Additional sites providing testing included Sidney, Oshkosh, Bridgeport, Alliance and Gordon.
The Box Butte County case has met the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines to be deemed recovered and is out of isolation. The official report of Panhandle COVID-19 cases, March 2-May 11, includes 74 positive cases and 39 recovered.
Box Butte County: 1 case
--This case has recovered and is out of isolation
Cheyenne County: 9 cases
--Five have recovered and are out of isolation
Dawes County: 1 case
Kimball County: 10 Cases
--10 have recovered and are out of isolation
Morrill County: 9 Cases
--One case has recovered and is out of isolation
Scotts Bluff County: 44 Cases
--22 have recovered and are out of isolation
Already having an immense change in the way schools and businesses are conducted, the virus is also having an impact on traditional summer Chadron events.
According to Discover Northwest Nebraska Director Kerri Rempp The 44th annual Fur Trade Days celebration in Chadron July 8-12 will look drastically different from previous years due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the public health guidelines expected to be in place at the time of the event.
“After consulting with Gov. Pete Ricketts and health officials, the Fur Trade Days board has made the decision to alter the format of Fur Trade Days to focus on providing local residents a safe way to celebrate Fur Trade Days. It is likely that significant limits on crowd sizes will continue for several months and that social distancing will still be necessary during the month of July. Unfortunately, that means traditional Fur Trade Days events like the Traders Market, carnival, and street dances will not be possible this year,” said Fur Trade Days Board President Miles Bannan.
The Fur Trade Days board is currently brainstorming ideas on events that will allow residents to celebrate FTD in a non-traditional manner that fits within the public health restrictions. Details will be released as they are available.
While the board acknowledges that many events may have to be simply cancelled, they encourage local organizations to adapt their unique events to fit within public health guidelines. For more information or guidance, organizers of Fur Trade Days events are encouraged to contact the Fur Trade Days board by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by contacting Bannan directly via text or phone at (308) 430-4762.
Traders Market vendors who have already reserved spots in the 2020 Traders Market will be offered the option to roll their reservation to 2021. Vendors can contact Amber Parks at email@example.com for more information.
Next year’s Fur Trade Days is expected to return to the traditional schedule of events and is scheduled for July 9–12, 2021.
Though changes were made to the statewide directed health measures that allowed businesses to reopen in a limited capacity, it's important to keep good practices to prevent further spread. These include:
- Wearing a mask when possible.
- Washing your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds and sanitize when available.
- Monitoring your symptoms. If you experience a cough, fever, shortness of breath, headache, sore throat, chills, muscle pain, or loss of taste or smell call your doctor, clinic, or our 24/7 line at 308-262-5764 before going.
- Socially distancing in public and at work. Use the six-foot rule as much as possible.
- Only sitting with people from your household when at church. Stay six feet from other households.
- Staying home. Do not take unnecessary trips outside the home. Respect the ten-person limit. Non-essential out-of-state travel is discouraged.
- Shopping alone and only once a week. Do not take family with you.
- Helping kids follow social distancing. Play at home. No group sports. And no playgrounds.
- Helping seniors stay at home by shopping for them. Do not visit long-term care facilities.
- Exercising daily at home or with an appropriately socially-distanced activity.
Just as important is minding mental health. Kelcey Roberts, a counselor with Inspirit Counseling LLC, said there is a struggle that comes with being isolated from others. Those already battling with depression and suicidal tendencies may have such mental state exaggerated because they're cut off from others.
Though the number of people in a group is limited, it's still possible to meet with a couple friends to help with feelings of isolation. Roberts also recommends physical activity, such as getting out and doing some yard work. Recently, Chadron has been encouraging social distancing while still getting out, with the Community Cruise events.
Roberts noted people can also get creative with the ways they interact, such as playing games via videoconferencing or mailing cards and letter to others. She further added its important to keep some semblance of a routine, such as regular bed times and meal times, and to be mindful of what you eat.
For those who feel a loved one might be having a hard time mentally, Roberts said some signs to look for include people not answering the phone or door, a lack of general hygiene or their staying in bed all the time. They might also make grave or hopeless phrases.
People who are concerned for others can contact local law enforcement to provide a welfare check, Roberts said, and there are multiple hotlines to use including the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Roberts added that mental health clinics are also offering telehealth sessions using videoconferencing so people can still get help without leaving the home.
The new directed health measures have made a visible impact around town, with more vehicles and people seen at businesses. Though the "all clear" may not be here yet, everyone doing their part will help bring it that much sooner.
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