In Colfax County, 49% of the people who got tested for COVID-19 received a positive result, said Schuyler Emergency Manager Michelle Evert. However, the City plans to start a Test Nebraska site to bring the rate down.
“Yes, we will be starting up a Test Nebraska clinic,” Evert said. “The only way to really get that down is to increase our testing. So, we’ll be doing a Test Nebraska clinic here in Schuyler on a more regular basis until October. It probably would not start until (this) week sometime.”
Test Nebraska does not go on forever, but Evert said she does not know if it will be readjusted if there is a second wave of COVID-19.
The CHI Health Schuyler will be testing at least once a week, if not more, until October, she said. They are trying to get people to register on Test Nebraska for appointments but people registering will show there is a need here.
A high test positivity rate can indicate only people who have symptoms are being tested. The more people who are tested, including more asymptomatic people, the more the rate will fall.
“With our limited amount of testing we couldn’t get it down any faster,” Evert said. “Before it’s always been just symptomatic people. Now that it’s opened up to anybody who wants to get tested, that will help our rate come down.”
Evert said she has concerns as, although Test Nebraska is available in English and Spanish, there are several languages spoken in Schuyler. She said getting everyone to understand how important it is to sign up on the Test Nebraska website has been a struggle. Also, she said, not everyone has a computer.
“That is another issue that we’re trying to figure out how we can help those people who want to get tested but don’t have computers,” she said. “How can we get them registered?”
There will be no antibody testing at the sites. In Colfax County, Evert said everybody is doing a good job of trying to social distance.
“They’re wearing their masks, which is very important when they’re out in public,” she said. “People are trying as hard as they can.”
This summer will have Test Nebraska, but it won’t have the Schuyler Municipal Swimming Pool. The City Council voted against opening it on June 16.
Pool Manager Veronica Nepper said she was disappointed but not shocked.
“It just you know it’s hard because everybody wants things to open up and go back to normal, but you know they’ve got safety concerns that they need to be aware of, too,” Nepper said. “I think what ended up happening is there were so many obstacles that we would have had to overcome.
"They would have needed to make repairs, acid wash the pool, fill the pool, balance the chemicals and then warm the pool all so they could start training lifeguards in order to open by July 1,” she said.
Also, Nepper teaches middle school in Omaha and her school will be starting earlier this year, which means she would have had to start work in early August. Although she was disappointed, she lives with older family members and said closing the pool took that concern off her mind.
“You know I just don’t think that COVID’s been licked, so making sure policies were in place and that they were being followed was very concerning to me,” she said. “I know the public. I teach middle school. I know how difficult it is to make my middle schoolers follow directions and expectations. That’s who comes to the pool.”
Another obstacle was the amount of lifeguards, said Schuyler City Administrator William De Roos, who said they took all the necessary steps to get lifeguards but with everything going on and with uncertainty due to COVID, the biggest barrier was uncertainty in hiring.
“I’ve heard form lots of members of the community. Some people are very disappointed. I personally am disappointed,” De Roos said. “I definitely see where the city council was coming from, you can’t have a safe pool without lifeguards and we just didn’t have the lifeguards.”
Carolyn Komatsoulis is a reporter for the Schuyler Sun. Reach her via email at email@example.com
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