As Testing Ramps Up In Grand Island, So Do Case Numbers

April 13, 2020 - 3:31pm

Grand Island’s number of COVID-19 cases has more than doubled in the past week, partially due to increased testing capacity in the area. That’s giving local health officials a window into the potential trajectory of Hall County’s outbreak.

It’s been nearly a week since the Nebraska National Guard arrived in Grand Island to bolster COVID-19 screening in the area. The Guard has also set up two other testing sites across the state: one in Kearney to screen staff and residents of the state's Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center, and another in Kimball. Both the Grand Island and Kimball testing sites are focused on caring for healthcare workers and first responders.

Central District Health Department Director Teresa Anderson said the additional resources are helping reveal the scope of COVID-19's presence in the district, which is quickly escalating.

“Through that testing and additional testing in the community, we’re finding that our positive rate is around 20-25%," she said. "Now we have to assume, as we have for the past few weeks, that the COVID virus is everywhere.”

Grand Island's case count is currently 132, while the wider district has 150 cases, up from 62 and 68 a week ago. Anderson says a strong spike in cases is leading local health officials to hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

Grand Island Mayor Roger Steele later commented Grand Island is a long ways away from returning to normality. "When we are able to return to normal depends on our compliance with social distancing," he said. "I need your compliance now."

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