Officials: COVID-19 safety not just wearing mask

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Official: COVID-19 safety not just wearing a mask

McCOOK, Neb. -- There’s more to protecting yourself and others to the COVID-19 virus than wearing a mask, according to the Southwest Nebraska Public Health Department.

Washing hands, staying home when sick and other measures work better in combination than any single act such as wearing a mask, SWNPHD officials remind.

The district had 261 new cases of COVID-19 reported Dec. 1 to noon Monday.  A breakout by county includes:  Chase – 18; Dundy – 10; Frontier – 4; Furnas – 26; Hayes – 3; Hitchcock – 19; Keith – 69; Perkins – 34; Red Willow – 78, as well as six additional deaths due to COVID-19.

  There is community spread occurring in all nine counties. This brings the totals for the health district to 2298 cases with 1956 cases recovered.

Layers of protection work to be combined to work against COVID-19 include:

• Practicing good health habits: stay home when sick, cover your cough, and wash hands often for 20+ seconds.

• Wear a mask and limit time in crowded areas.

• Use increased ventilation and air filtration.

• Follow isolation and quarantine instructions if sick or exposed.

• Get tested in a timely manner and notify close contacts right away if positive.

• Share public education messages with reliable information.

• Take advantage of vaccination when it becomes available.

(Based on the Swiss Cheese Model by Dr. James Reason, PhD)

 The instructions for isolation and quarantine are in the state of Nebraska’s Directed Health Measures, which now include the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with alternative options for the length of quarantine for those exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19.  A full 14-day quarantine is still the best course of action to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and is the option recommended by SWNPHD.  For situations when financial hardship or other circumstances make 14 days challenging, there are two other options.

With testing: may leave quarantine after 7 days IF they get tested on day 5 or after, they do not test positive, do not have symptoms, and agree to continue monitoring for symptoms and wear a face covering through day 14.

Without testing: may leave quarantine after 10 days IF they do not have symptoms and agree to continue monitoring for symptoms and wear a face covering through day 14.

 The COVID-19 Community Risk Dial for the week of December 7th is red, meaning residents of southwest Nebraska are at severe risk of contracting COVID-19.  SWNPHD asks that residents of the health district stay at home when possible, except for essential errands.  If you do leave home, wear a mask or face covering. High-risk and vulnerable individuals should limit their contact with those who work outside the home.  All gatherings and events are strongly discouraged until the risk dial is no longer in the red.

 The full Directed Health Measures can be found at and at  You can also follow SWNPHD on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 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.                            

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  • You can wear a mask everywhere (restaurants, gas stations, drive-thrus, grocery stores, gatherings, etc.) AND STILL GET COVID. Only if you stay home, no visitors will you not get it.

    It should be a matter of personal responsibility and choice. Also, the Health Department should be educating people on not just wearing masks and sanitizing but taking Vitamin D, C & Zinc, extra fluids, eating more green vegetables. Because WHEN you do get COVID, that's when you find out most people are lacking in this and they recommend you begin immediately to lessen the effects.

    Yes, I've had it and was responsible in wearing a mask & hand sanitizing.

    -- Posted by Rural Citizen on Tue, Dec 8, 2020, at 1:42 PM
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