COVID-19 March 19 2020

The second community spread case of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was identified in Douglas County yesterday, Wednesday, March 18, 2020 - a man in his 40s who is currently hospitalized. The Douglas County Health Department (DCHD) determined he did not become infected while traveling or through contact with a person with COVID-19. He has no travel history, few close contacts and no public exposure, according to DCHD. There is one household member who is self-quarantined.

“We do expect additional community transmission of COVID-19 in Nebraska. We will continue aggressive efforts to slow the spread of disease in Nebraska so that our hospitals and clinics won’t be overwhelmed and can continue to provide care for those who may need it,” Dr. Gary Anthone, Chief Medical Officer and Director of Public Health for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), said. “Protect those you love and your friends and neighbors by staying home if you’re sick, avoiding crowds and distancing yourself from others.”

As we’ve already seen in some areas, Nebraskans should expect additional closures and cancellations in their communities as we work to slow the spread of COVID-19.

DCHD also reported three additional travel-related cases of COVID-19. They are a woman in her 60s, a man in his 60s, and a man in his 40s.

You can find further information on the Douglas County Health Department’s website - https://www.douglascountyhealth.com/latest-news.

Another case is a woman 40s from Adams County who recently traveled to Europe. She is currently self-isolating at home - https://southheartlandhealth.org/public-health-data/corona-virus.html.

As of tonight, the state case total is 27. Both state and local health departments are testing and publicly reporting their cases. In the event of a discrepancy between DHHS cases and cases reported by local public health officials, data reported by the local health department should be considered the most up to date.

People who are concerned they may have COVID-19 should self-isolate and call ahead to their primary care provider to be screened over the phone. The provider can evaluate and determine if testing is necessary. Flu activity is also still high in Nebraska. Flu tests should be considered as a first test option before considering a COVID-19 test.

Testing Capacity

Public health officials, health care providers, and laboratories are working daily to increase Nebraska’s capacity to test more people for COVID-19.

Currently, testing supplies are limited. Local, state, and federal partners are working to expand testing supplies and the ability to test people experiencing symptoms as quickly as possible.

Health care providers and local health departments are screening people to prioritize testing for those who have the highest likelihood of being exposed.

Health care providers can find the latest guidance for COVID-19 testing here – http://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/Health-Alert-Network.aspx.

Public health partners across the state continue to take action to protect the health of Nebraskans.

Certain people are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19 including older adults and people who have serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease, according to the CDC.

People in these higher-risk groups should:

• Stock up on supplies, including extra necessary medications.

• Take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others.

• When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact and wash your hands often.

• Avoid crowds as much as possible.

• Avoid cruise travel and non-essential air travel.

• If there is a COVID-19 outbreak in your community, stay home as much as possible to further reduce your risk of being exposed.

Everyone can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory infections by:

• Avoiding close contact with sick people and stay home if you are sick.

• Washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water aren't available, use an alcohol-based sanitizer.

• Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

• Covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze then throw the tissue in the trash.

• Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Here’s where to find tools and resources for individuals and families, schools, communities, businesses, healthcare facilities, and first responders on the DHHS website - http://dhhs.ne.gov/coronavirus and CDC’s website – https://www.cdc.gov/covid19.

DHHS opened a statewide coronavirus (COVID-19) information line to help answer general questions and share the latest information and resources with Nebraskans to help keep them informed. The number is (402) 552-6645; hours of operation are 8 a.m.-8 p.m. CST, 7 days a week.

DHHS will continue to update Nebraskans through the DHHS website and on Facebook and Twitter as we have new information. The CDC’s website is also a good resource for COVID-19 information - https://www.cdc.gov/covid19.

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