So far no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in NNPHD jurisdiction

Julie Rother, health director at Northeast Nebraska Public Health Department (NNPHD), said Saturday (March 14) afternoon that there are currently no confirmed cases of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) within NNPHD’s four-county area. Even with no confirmed cases, Rother said things are moving very quickly with the disease.

As it’s been reported, common symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to influenza or a common cold. Rother said now it’s particularly important people pay attention to those symptoms especially if they have a fever of 100.4 or more and a dry, unproductive cough. Other symptoms, such as runny nose, scratchy throat or body aches are less likely to be COVID-19 if the fever and cough don’t accompany them. If anyone has symptoms congruent with COVID-19 or have recently returned from overseas or California, Washington or New York City, Rother is asking them to report to NNPHD by calling (402) 375-2200 or reporting to their health provider based on their symptoms.

“If someone is having difficulty breathing, it’s important they call their health provider and it’s important they call first. Otherwise, call the health department first,” Rother said.

There have been a slew of cancellations and postponements in northeast Nebraska and beyond, but Rother said that’s not necessarily an over-reaction because public health’s goal right now is to stop community transmission, or COVID-19 being present and spreading beyond those who contracted it after direct exposure.

“Before we have community transmission it’s important for people to think about their gatherings,” Rother said.

State officials are now suggesting events should limit the number of attendees to 250 or less and ensure hand sanitizer, tissues and other germ prevention steps are taken. The better COVID-19 is contained, the better the health care providers can help those who are diagnosed.

“If we have everyone sick at once, it puts our health care professionals at risk and our health care systems can get overwhelmed. We’re trying to prevent the spread of this disease because we really don’t know what the mortality rate is,” Rother said.

She stressed that if anyone is exhibiting symptoms or they have traveled recently, including to Washington, California or New York City, they need to stay home and self-report to NNPHD or their local public health department for testing.

The situation is ever evolving with COVID-19, but the public can stay informed with up-to-date information on and from NNPHD serves Wayne, Cedar, Dixon and Thurston counties for questions or to self-report, call (402) 375-2200 and leave a message if outside staffed hours.


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