First Community Spread COVID-19 Case Identified in Douglas County

News Release
For Immediate Release: 3/14/2020


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

Khalilah LeGrand, Communications, (402) 853-1320

Phil Rooney, DCHD, (402) 669-1602

Additional cases reported: 2 travel-related, 1 under investigation bringing state total to 17  

LINCOLN – The first community spread case of coronavirus disease 2019 was identified in Douglas County today. It is the woman in her 60s who tested positive yesterday and was reported as a travel-related case. The Douglas County Health Department's continuing investigation determined her symptoms were present before she traveled so the case is now being classified as community spread. She continues to self-isolate at home.

“We will continue see more cases in Nebraska and we expect additional community transmission of COVID-19,  but we can all work together to help slow the spread," said Dr. Gary Anthone, Chief Medical Officer and Director of Public Health for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).  “Nebraskans need to be extra vigilant and 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."  

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

Two additional presumptive positive cases that are travel-related were reported to DHHS today, along with another case under investigation. All are from Douglas County. One is a male in his 50s who recently traveled to Spain and the other is a male in his 30s who traveled to Douglas County from Singapore. Both are self-isolating and DCHD is in the process of identifying close contacts to help reduce further spread.

You can find further information on the Douglas County Health Department's website -

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.

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. 

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.  

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 -


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