Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird and the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD) today announced that officials are investigating the first confirmed positive case of COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, in Lancaster County.
The individual is a 48-year-old male resident of Lincoln who traveled to Colorado March 8 and 9. He developed symptoms March 15 and visited his health care provider March 16. The provider tested for COVID-19 and advised him to self-isolate at home until the test results were received. The provider followed protocol and immediately contacted LLCHD when the test came back positive for COVID-19 today. The individual continues to self-isolate at home.
LLCHD is the lead agency for community preparedness and response. Interim Health Director Pat Lopez said LLCHD is working with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to investigate the case.
The Mayor and LLCHD will hold a briefing at 2:45 p.m. today. The briefing 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.
"We are taking this change in our community's status very seriously because we know that, for those considered at highest risk - older adults and those with underlying health conditions - the virus poses a very serious threat," said Mayor Gaylor Baird. "Every decision we make continues to be based on how we can best protect them, our health care workers, and all of our residents with every available resource. While this latest development is cause for significant concern, it is important to remember that, for the vast majority of people who end up contracting coronavirus, the impact to their health will be minimal."
LLCHD is now monitoring 160 individuals. The agency reports 55 negative tests with 5 pending. There are now 34 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nebraska.
LLCHD continues to monitor the situation 24 hours a day, seven days a week and has measures in place to detect any cases quickly and minimize the spread of the virus.
Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, sore throat 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 before visiting. If you need help accessing care, contact the Health Department at 402-441-8006. Do not go to the emergency room unless it is essential.
While officials are working to increase the number of tests available in Lincoln, testing continues to be limited and prioritized for those who are most vulnerable or those in high-risk populations.
According to the State guidelines for COVID-19 testing, patients who have symptoms - and who have been diagnosed as not having the flu or other respiratory illness - will now be considered presumptively positive and be considered for testing. Patients considered presumptively positive should self-quarantine for 14 days as they wait for resolution of their symptoms.
Those prioritized for testing remain healthcare workers; public safety personnel; residents and employees of nursing homes and group homes; those attending or working at daycares; and people over 60 or those with underlying health conditions
Those who have no symptoms do not need to contact your health provider to be tested. Do not go to urgent care, the emergency department, or a doctor's office to get a COVID-19 test. Those test kits and medical personnel must be reserved for individuals in the prioritized categories.
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.
Health officials recommend these steps to reduce the spread of any respiratory virus: