Updates on Nebraska’s First Case of Coronavirus Disease 2019

News Release
For Immediate Release: 3/7/2020


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

Khalilah LeGrand, Communications, (402) 853-1320

Phil Rooney, DCHD, (402) 669-1602

Lincoln – Nebraska announced its first travel-related case of coronavirus disease 2019 in a person from Douglas County who recently returned from the England. The woman is seriously ill but stable in Nebraska Medicine/University of Nebraska Medical Center's Biocontainment Unit. Public health officials continue to identify additional people who came into close contact with this person.

“Ensuring the health of Nebraskans is our main priority. These actions are meant to help reduce the spread of disease in the community. However, even with these actions, we most likely will see additional cases," said Dr. Tom Safranek, State Epidemiologist for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

The Douglas County Health Department (DCHD) is leading the close contact investigation and DHHS disease experts joined their team yesterday to provide support and assistance.

“DCHD and DHHS epidemiology staff have interviewed family members of the patient to collect a solid history of where this individual has spent time since her return to the U.S. up to the time she was diagnosed with COVID-19 yesterday," said Dr. Adi Pour, Director of the Douglas County Health Department.

Here are the latest developments:

  • It's clear the group at highest risk are healthcare providers who saw this patient before the risk of COVID-19 was identified. England was not one of the countries with widespread community transmission and the patient did not present with concerning symptoms until the last visit so the need for personal protective equipment wasn't readily apparent. Local health care systems have worked with DCHD to identify healthcare providers and informed them they are to self-quarantine at home for 14 days.
  • State and local public health officials are requesting that basketball players, coaches and team staff who participated in the Special Olympics event at the Fremont Family YMCA on February 29, 2020 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. to self-quarantine to limit exposure to others and monitor themselves for development of COVID-19 symptoms as listed below until Saturday, March 14, 2020. The Fremont Family YMCA is located at 810 N Lincoln Ave, Fremont, NE 68025. Officials are also asking that people who are in the groups above to either self-report to the Nebraska public health online system at http://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx  or contact their local health department for guidance and next steps. Here's where you can find more information - http://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/Voluntary-Quarantine-Requested-of-Special-Olympics-Basketball-Tournament-Participants-and-Attendees.aspx.
  • Public health officials are also asking anyone who was at VFW Post 2503 at 8904 Military Road in Omaha the evening of Wednesday, March 4 from 6:00-7:00 p.m. to self-report at https://www.douglascountyhealth.com. Use the COVID-19 Community Contacts link on the homepage. The risk of exposure is thought to be low so anyone who was at the VFW Post during that time is asked to monitor their health for 14 days or until March 18. More details are available at https://www.douglascountyhealth.com/latest-news.
  • DHHS and the Sarpy Cass Health Department received negative test results from the Nebraska Public Health Laboratory on a possible case in that area. With the best interest of Nebraskans in mind, we exercised extreme caution and treated this as a potentially positive case.  

It's important to remember that we haven't identified COVID-19 spreading in Nebraska communities at this time.

We all have a role to play in this response and state and local public health officials continue to urge Nebraskans to prepare, if they haven't already. We want to be prepared now and for what may come. 

Make sure you have two weeks worth of food and water, check regular prescription drugs to ensure a continuous supply, and think through what you would do if schools and childcare centers close or you have to work from home.  

Here's where you can find tools and resources for individuals and families, schools, communities, businesses, healthcare facilities, and first responders on the DHHS website dhhs.ne.gov and CDC's website – CDC.gov.

Practicing good health habits can help prevent the spread of coronavirus disease and other respiratory infections:

    • Stay home if you are sick.
    • Avoid close contact with those who are sick.
    • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.  If soap and water aren't available, use an alcohol-based sanitizer.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and then throw the tissue in the trash.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. 

We will continue to update Nebraskans through our website http://www.dhhs.ne.gov/coronavirus 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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