State Health Officials Confirm Nebraska's First COVID-19 Deaths, Ricketts Expands Public Health Measures

March 27, 2020, 4:58 p.m. ·


The Department of Health and Human Services has announced the state's first two deaths from COVID-19.

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Friday afternoon, Douglas County Health Director Adi Pour confirmed the county's first death from the virus: a man in his 50s who had undisclosed underlying health conditions. “The family of this individual has our most sincere sympathies,” Health Director Dr. Adi Pour said. “This new disease has been in our community for only a short while, but those with co-morbidities are at a greater risk of complications.”

The man likely contracted the virus from close contact with a confirmed case out of state, and began quarantine at home on March 11.

In the evening, Hall county reported a woman in her 60s who also had underlying conditions had died after hospitalization. Governor Ricketts addressed the deaths in a press statement. “Susanne and I send our condolences to the families who lost their loved ones today,” he said.

“I encourage all Nebraskans to keep these families and all families impacted by coronavirus in their thoughts and prayers. This is a reminder for all of us to practice the ten-person rule, exercise good hygiene, and to stay home if you’re displaying flu-like symptoms.”

Hall county currently has two other documented COVID-19 cases, both of which are community spread, meaning it's unclear how the patients were exposed to the virus. Governor Ricketts has issued a Directed Health Measure for Hall, Hamilton, Merrick, York, Seward, Butler, and Polk counties because they now "border counties with community spread".

Under the Directed Health Measure, gatherings of more than 10 people are banned, and bars and restaurants must immediately move to takeout, delivery, or curbside service. Students are also not longer allowed in school buildings. The measure does not apply to workplaces, "shopping centers" like grocery stores, healthcare facilities, or transit locations.

It takes effect at 6 a.m. on Saturday, March 28.

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