As of 8 p.m. on Sunday, March 22, the Nebraska COVID-19 case count is increasing, with 50 confirmed cases throughout several counties—but none are confirmed in Seward, Saline or surrounding counties.
As the situation develops, here's what local health departments and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services are recommending, based on advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Items and shared surfaces are ways to transmit this virus, as well as respiratory droplets onto a surface or item," said Laura McDougall, director of Four Corners Health Department. "We really want (people) to keep their hands away from their eyes nose and mouth."
McDougall said her husband compared the situation to raw chicken.
"Pretend everything you touch is raw chicken. Would you touch your face after touching raw chicken?" she said.
The virus can live on items and surfaces for several days, so people should be cautious when passing things back and forth—paper, mail, pens, packages, phones—and when touching doorknobs, light switches and more.
"Some items are not conducive to cleaning with disinfectant. Always wash your hands. Remind you and your staff to keep washing your hands," McDougall said. "We're going to have to be able to send mail and share different papers to continue to do business."
All local health departments across the state have initiated close contact investigations to identify people who came into close contact with those who have the virus to help prevent further spread.
All identified close contacts will self-quarantine and be actively monitored twice daily by public health officials for fever and respiratory symptoms.
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.
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 staying 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 throwing 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, seven days a week.