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Downtown salon school closes

The Hastings campus of Joseph’s College Cosmetology closed June 30, ending a downtown beauty school presence that dates back to the 1930s.

Ken Broekemeier, a vice president with Joseph’s corporate offices in Lincoln, said challenging factors created during the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, pandemic led to the campus at 828 W. Second St. being consolidated with its Grand Island campus at 3415 W. State St.

Along with the economic hit from the pandemic, Broekemeier said, uncertainty about the future also played a role in the closing.

“The decision was not taken lightly,” he said. “It was an opportunity for us to do the right thing for our staff and students.”

Broekemeier said the Grand Island campus could accommodate staff from the Hastings campus. Since the same curriculum is used at each of the college’s locations, he said, students were able to transfer to another campus. He believes most chose Grand Island.

The school offers a 12-month accredited program where students learn to become licensed cosmetologists in Nebraska.

Broekemeier said college officials chose to consolidate on the Grand Island campus because the facility there is newer than the one in Hastings and Grand Island has a larger population.

He said Joseph’s College has been part of the Hastings community for decades, which made the decision to close the Hastings campus that much more difficult. He said the local organizations and the community were always supportive and helpful.

“The Downtown Hastings (Center) Association is top-notch,” he said. “It has been a joy working with the other businesses in the association.”

Tribune Archives  

A customer gets her hair done at Joseph’s College in this archive photograph taken in 1974.

Joseph’s College was founded in 1965, but the Hastings campus wasn’t added until the 1970s, according to the company’s page on the Downtown Center Association website.

The Hastings school’s history stretches back much further than that, however — at least to the 1930s under the name Hastings Beauty Academy.

An entry for the Hastings Beauty Academy can be found in the 1932 Hastings City Directory with Everett E. Gilchrist listed as manager. At that time, the academy was located at 632 W. Second St. Hastings Barber College and Ultra Modern Beauty Salon were located at the same address, and were associated with the name Edward E. Gilchrist as proprietor.

In the 1935 Hastings City Directory, Lena Olsen was listed as the owner of the Hastings Beauty Academy. The Hastings Barber College and Ultra Modern Beauty Salon no longer were listed.

In the 1939 directory, the name of the establishment had been changed to Hastings Beauty Culture Academy under the ownership of Opie and Lena Olsen at 613 W. Second St.

According to a Tribune article from Sept. 27, 1972, the business at that time was operating under the name Joseph’s Beauty Academy and was located at 825 W. Second St. In that article, instructor Shelly Biggs said the business had been located at 733 1/2 W. Second St. before that.

Biggs said Lena Olsen was her great-aunt and later sold the business to her uncle, Warren George, and her mother, Mrs. Mickey Johnson of Lincoln. Biggs said her grandmother, Lucille George, managed the business at that time.

Biggs had taken a student instructor job at the Joseph’s location in Lincoln and transferred to the Hastings school in the 1970s.

Broekemeier said the current owner, Jane Nims, was saddened to have to close down the Hastings campus given its rich history.

“She has considered being in Hastings an absolute joy,” he said. “She loves Hastings and wishes everyone the best.”

'A hot mess': Americans face testing delays as virus surges

AUSTIN, Texas — With a cough and shortness of breath, it took Austin, Texas, resident Sam Lee three tries to get a COVID-19 test.

The first time, he showed up an hour before the public testing site was set to close and was told they had reached capacity. He was turned away from a second center when rain shut it down, and voluntarily left a third after someone ahead of him said they had been waiting in line for more than three hours.

“If you have symptoms and you are just driving around the city trying to figure out how you can get a test, for people who are positive, it is not ideal,” said Lee, who finally got a test on June 29 after he showed up at a site before dawn and waited for more than two hours. Another five days passed before he was able to view the results online, and he didn’t receive a text with the results until seven days after being tested.

Four months, 3 million confirmed infections and over 130,000 deaths into the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., Americans confronted with a resurgence of the scourge are facing long lines at testing sites in the summer heat or are getting turned away. Others are going a week or more without receiving a diagnosis.

Some sites are running out of kits, while labs are reporting shortages of materials and workers to process the swabs.

Some frustrated Americans are left to wonder why the U.S. can’t seem to get its act together, especially after it was given fair warning as the virus wreaked havoc in China and then Italy, Spain and New York.

“It’s a hot mess,” said 47-year-old Jennifer Hudson of Tucson, Arizona. “The fact that we’re relying on companies and we don’t have a national response to this, it’s ridiculous. … It’s keeping people who need tests from getting tests.”

It took Hudson five days to make an appointment through a CVS pharmacy near her home. She booked a drive-up test over the weekend, more than a week after her symptoms — fatigue, shortness of breath, headache and sore throat — first emerged. The clinic informed her that her results would probably be delayed.

Testing has been ramped up nationwide, reaching about 640,000 tests per day on average, up from around 518,000 two weeks ago, according to an Associated Press analysis. Newly confirmed infections per day in the U.S. are running at over 50,000, breaking records at practically every turn.

More testing tends to lead to more cases found. But in an alarming indicator, the percentage of tests coming back positive for the virus is on the rise across nearly the entire country, hitting almost 27% in Arizona, 19% in Florida and 17% in South Carolina.

While the U.S. has conducted more tests than any other nation, it ranks in the middle of the pack in testing per capita, behind Russia, Spain and Australia, according to Johns Hopkins University.

“I am stunned that as a nation, six months into this pandemic, we still can’t figure out how to deliver testing to the American people when they need it,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, director of Harvard’s Global Health Institute. “It is an abject failure of leadership and shows that the federal government has not prioritized testing in a way that will allow us to get through this pandemic.”

Testing alone without adequate contact tracing and quarantine measures won’t control the spread of the scourge, according to health experts. But they say delays in testing can lead to more infections by leaving people in the dark as to whether they need to isolate themselves.

In other developments:

— While the number of confirmed cases in the U.S. hit 3 million Wednesday by Johns Hopkins’ count, health officials have said that because of inadequate testing and the many mild infections that have gone unreported, the real number is about 10 times higher, or almost 10% of the U.S. population.

— A crowd of thousands attending President Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in late June, along with large groups of people who showed up to protest, “likely contributed” to a dramatic surge in new coronavirus cases in the area, Tulsa City-County Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart said Wednesday. Tulsa County reported 261 confirmed cases on Monday, a new record one-day high, and another 206 confirmed cases on Tuesday. A spokesman for the Trump campaign didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

— Most New York City students will return to school in the fall two or three days a week and learn online the rest of the time under a plan announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio. He said schools can’t accommodate all their students at any one time and maintain social distancing. The school system in New York is the biggest in the nation, with 1.1 million students. It has been closed since March.

In New York City, the most lethal hot spot in the nation during the spring, testing was scarce early on but is now widely available. As many as 35,000 tests are conducted daily through a combination of private health organizations and city agencies, according to the city Health Department.

“Widespread testing holds the key to reopening our city safely,” de Blasio said.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services this week said it will open free “surge testing” sites in three hard-hit cities: Jacksonville, Florida; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and Edinburg, Texas. The sites will be able to conduct as many as 5,000 tests a day in each city, with results in three to five days, officials said.

In Georgia, one of the states where cases are surging, officials are rushing to expand testing capacity as demand threatens to overwhelm six major sites around Atlanta, said DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond.

“If you project this out over the next three weeks, we can’t handle it,” he said.

In New Orleans, people were turned away from a free testing site for a third consecutive day after it reached its daily allotment of tests. Health care providers are running low on trays and chemicals needed to run machines used in the tests.

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego called the situation there “desperate” as residents have sat in sun-baked cars for up to 13 hours to get drive-thru testing. Robert Fenton, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said FEMA is doubling the testing supplies it plans to ship to Arizona.

Patrick Friday, a United Methodist minister in Alabama, went to several hospitals and clinics in Birmingham this week to get checked after his school-age son tested positive. But he was told that unless he had a preexisting condition, he didn’t qualify.

Finally, he ended up at a site offering rapid-result tests and his negative result came back quickly.

“We are several months into this,” he said. “How can it be that we can’t go in and get a test?”

Superior hospital to offer drive-through COVID-19 testing

SUPERIOR — Brodstone Memorial Hospital here is working with the state of Nebraska to offer free drive-up testing for the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, three days this month.

The hospital announced Tuesday that the testing will be available to Nebraska residents who take an online assessment through the TestNebraska internet portal and are found to be eligible.

The testing dates established at this time are July 15 from 9-11 a.m., July 20 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and July 29 from 4-6 p.m. Those being tested will remain in their vehicles throughout the process.

“We’re happy to bring forward new opportunities for testing to our region and expect this partnership to improve testing capabilities far into the future,” said Treg Vyzourek, CEO of Brodstone Memorial Hospital. “We encourage area residents to take the online assessment and if needed schedule for future testing.”

Individuals who take the TestNebraska assessment and are found eligible will select an appointment date, time and location for their test. They then will receive an email with a QR code that they will need to bring to the appointment along with a form of identification.

On the day of their test, the individuals will enter the hospital campus from Nebraska Highway 14 and head east toward Washington Street. From there, signage will direct them through the testing route. Pre-registration and an appointment time are required.

Meanwhile, Brodstone continues to have the same processes in place for testing inside its facility. Those who have symptoms of COVID-19 can contact the Superior Family Medical Clinic, 402-879-4781.

In Tuesday’s news release, Brodstone officials credit the TestNebraska initiative with expanding access to testing statewide.

TestNebraska is being conducted under a contract between the state of Nebraska and several private companies from Utah, led by Nomi Health.

“From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nebraskans have been asking for more widespread access to testing,” the hospital statement reads. “The state’s partnership with Nomi Health provides our hospital with access to a pre-existing supply chain of testing that works, project management, and clinical expertise in collaboration with our hospital staff to get the job done. Our hospital and public health systems across the state needed immediate access to scarce resources, high-quality testing equipment, (and) an efficient process, which this partnership delivers.”

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