Nebraska Reports Two More COVID-19 Infections, Both Family Members of First Case

March 8, 2020, 5:17 p.m. ·

Nebraska COVID-19 (NET News Graphic)

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Two family members of Nebraska’s first COVID-19 case have tested positive for the virus. The announcement came in a statement from the Douglas County Health Department Sunday.

“We expected this to happen,” Health Director Dr. Adi Pour said. “This demonstrates the importance of contact investigations and shows how well they work.”

According to the statement the pair had symptoms of the virus and remained in self-quarantine since Friday. Other “close contacts” have tested negative for the virus.

The health department called it “good news” that the newest cases had “limited exposure to other individuals in the community.”

The statement said officials "continue to believe the risk to the general public is low" and encouraged Nebraskans to "monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms which include a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing."

The first patient, still unidentified because of medical privacy regulations, began experiencing symptoms following a trip to the U.K. with her father. They returned February 27. The woman, who according to the Omaha World-Herald lives alone, had frequent contact with her family before reporting to the emergency room at Methodist Women’s Hospital in Omaha.

She has since been transferred to the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s secure Biocontainment Unit.

School Districts Respond to Possible Exposure:

  • Fremont Public Schools: Closed next week, along with several other local organizations.
  • Logan View Public Schools: Classes canceled Monday and Tuesday to plan for potential future coronavirus response.
  • Plattsmouth Community Schools: Classes, activities and practices canceled from Mar. 9-15. Buildings will also be closed for use to allow our custodial staff to complete deep-cleaning.
  • Gretna Public Schools: A few families attended the basketball event in Fremont on Feb. 29. District officials encourage everyone to follow the advice of health officials.
  • The situation is very fluid. We reccommend to monitor websites and Facebook pages hosted by local institutions and organizations for updates about changes in schedules.

Meanwhile, the Douglas County continues to seek out those who may have come in contact with Nebraska's first confirmed COVID-19 case.

Although hundreds of people may have been at risk of exposure as the woman moved around the Omaha and Fremont area, there are no additional infections reported beyond her immediate family.

The largest group advised to self-isolate were athletes and volunteers at a Special Olympics event in Fremont. Several students from Midland University participated, and that school has temporarily closed.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) released a statement stating, "it's clear the group at highest risk are healthcare providers (from Methodist Hospital) who saw this patient before the risk of COVID-19 was identified."

At least 30 hospital employees have been told to self-isolate and monitor and report any symptoms or fever since the patient had been seen more than once before reporting to the emergency room "seriously ill" with respiratory complications.

DHHS also asked those who had been at VFW Post 2503 in Omaha on March 4 between 6-7 to the Douglas County Health Department.

In other Nebraska coronavirus news:

Senior Living Facility Locked Down

Online information flyer distributed by MJ Senior Living to advise residents and families of the facility's response.

A senior living community in Bellevue, Nebraska, placed its residents and staff under quarantine. Two facilities managed by MJ Senior Housing took action after learning one of its employees attended the Special Olympics event in Fremont in February. State health officials advised those who volunteered and participated in the event self-isolate for up to 14 days.

In a Facebook post, MJ Senior Housing wrote it had instituted "quarantine measures" at Richmont Terrace and Richmont Village. The company added," because we do not know how widespread this virus is at this point, we have made the decision to not allow visitors until further notice at two of our other communities: Providence Place of Fremont and Fallbrook in Lincoln" even though there is no known connection with those facilities with the Fremont event."

The statement added, "the risk to our residents at this point is extremely low."

At the University of Nebraska Medical Center

Two patients, including Nebraska's first local case, continue to be treated in the Biocontainment Unit. One is in critical condition, and the other listed as "good." The update came in a daily online briefing provided by Nebraska Medicine.

Across the street in the 20 bed National Quarantine Unit, eight people remain. Seven of those are the last of the passengers evacuated from Japan after their stay on the Princess Diamond cruise ship. One other is an Omaha resident who needed to self-isolate after coming in contact with the first Nebraska patient.

The Medical Center continues to lead the first clinical trial for an experimental treatment for COVID-19 in the United States. A third participant at UNMC agreed to be included as of this weekend. Other patients have been recruited at other healthcare institutions around the world to "evaluate the safety and effectiveness of an antiviral… to evaluate an experimental treatment for this disease," according to the statement released by UNMC.

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