With the first case of coronavirus confirmed in Nebraska, the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD) is working with the state and other local health departments to investigate the potential exposure of local residents.
A 36-year old Omaha woman with underlying health conditions was diagnosed with the virus yesterday and is now being treated at UNMC. She had attended a Special Olympics event from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. February 29 at the Fremont Family YMCA, 810 N. Lincoln Avenue. About 500 people participated in the event, including some from Lincoln.
State and local health officials are asking the basketball players, coaches and team staff from Lincoln and Lancaster County who participated in that event to take two measures:
Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. Those who experience these symptoms should self-quarantine and call their health care providers for recommended follow up. If you need help accessing care, contact the Health Department at 402-441-8006.
LLCHD is the lead agency for community preparedness and response. LLCHD is working in conjunction with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, the Three Rivers Public Health Department and Douglas County Health Department on the investigations of the possible exposures.
"My office continues to work with our Health Department and our Lincoln health care network to share the latest and most accurate information with the public," Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird said. "The collaborative work of our public health partners leading up to this point has enabled our local hospitals and health care facilities, our schools, our early childhood facilities, our business community, and our residents to be prepared."
The latest information is available at health.lincoln.ne.gov. The website includes links to information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). LLCHD has established a hotline at 402-441-8006 for questions on COVID-19.
The CDC advises individuals at higher risk - including older adults and those with underlying health problems such as heart or lung disease, diabetes or compromised immune systems - to stay home as much as possible and to avoid large public gatherings.
"We all play a role in minimizing the impact of COVID-19," Mayor Gaylor Baird said. "It's extremely important that those with symptoms take action to protect their families, friends and co-workers. If you are sick, stay home and limit contact with others as much as possible. Employers should encourage employees to stay home if they are sick."
In a community briefing yesterday, Mayor Gaylor Baird and health officials urged families to take common sense steps to help prevent the spread of the virus and to consider now how they could prepare for the potential closure of schools and childcare centers at some point in the future.
Health officials recommend these steps to reduce the spread of any respiratory virus:
The Mayor and LLCHD will continue to hold community briefings as needed. These will be aired live on LNKTV, the City government access channel. The briefings may also be viewed on Allo channels 2 and 3, Spectrum channels 1300 and 1301, and Kinetic channel 1005 and 1010. The briefings will also be streamed at lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: LNKTV) and available at YouTube.com/LNKTVcity