COVID-19 Case Update – Potential High Numbers of Community Exposures Associated with Cases in Douglas County

News Release
For Immediate Release: 3/15/2020


Leah Bucco-White, Communications, (402) 309-4157  

Khalilah LeGrand, Communications, (402) 853-1320

Phil Rooney, DCHD, (402) 669-1602

State total now 18

LINCOLN – The first community transmitted case of coronavirus disease 2019 was identified in Douglas County yesterday. Today, contact investigations related to cases of COVID-19 in Douglas County also have identified several events and locations in the Omaha area and Sarpy County that could result in potentially high numbers of people exposed in the community and could affect Nebraskans statewide.

People who were at the following locations - - during the time frames mentioned should self monitor for the development symptoms that include a fever, cough, shortness of breath and in some cases a sore throat.  

“We are monitoring the situation for a second community-acquired case, said Dr. Gary Anthone, Chief Medical Officer and Director of Public Health for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). “The number of exposures associated with these events is potentially very high and may be beyond the ability for public health to continue to do complete contact tracing as we have been able to do up until this point.

“We need your help. DHHS is advising Nebraskans to stay home if they're experiencing any symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or other respiratory illnesses including fever, cough, shortness of breath and in some cases a sore throat. By staying home you protect those in your community."

Social distancing and taking other actions to slow the spread of COVID-19 is critical. Slowing the spread of the virus will help decrease the potential strain on health care providers and facilities and help ensure care for those who may need it.

As we've already seen in some areas, Nebraskans should continue to expect closures and cancellations in their communities as we work to slow the spread of COVID-19. Guidance for events, public gatherings and schools is available on the DHHS website –

People experiencing symptoms 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.

COVID-19 testing

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 and testing is only being done on people who have symptoms.

While we work to increase supplies and testing, health care providers and local health departments are screening people to prioritize testing for those who have the highest likelihood of being exposed to or having COVID-19 including:

  • Hospitalized patients who have signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19.
  • People with symptoms such as, older adults and individuals with underlying health conditions like diabetes, heart disease and lung disease that may put them at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19.
  • People who have had close contact with a suspect or confirmed COVID-19 patient in the last 14 days and have symptoms starting after this contact.
  • People who have a history of travel from affected areas (international or U.S. -  ( in the last 14 days and have symptoms starting after this contact.
  • Other factors may also help guide COVID-19 testing decisions like COVID-19 infections in a certain area and known community transmission.  

New testing resources for people and providers

Health care providers can find the latest guidance for COVID-19 testing here –

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 - and CDC's website –

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 -


Go to
All News Releases