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coronavirus

Teachers are parading through the streets in Omaha to wave at their students through their windows. Erin Rathe [[rath]] is a preschool teacher at Ashland Greenwood Public Schools. She says she led the nearly 60-car parade of teachers wanting to see their students. Rathe said it was all smiles as teachers passed by their students' homes. She says the interaction was also heartbreaking because students and teachers have strong connections and are now separated because of the coronavirus pandemic.

 

HyVee is paying its employees extra for working more during the coronavirus outbreak. HyVee says employees who work between March 16th and April 12th will receive a ten-percent pay increase as a thank you. The company also updated its benefits package with job-protected leave for employees who need to self-quarantine and access to tele-health services. Co-pays for full-time employees will also be waived and two-weeks of paid disability could be available for those enrolled.

CHI Health Begins Coronavirus Testing

Mar 27, 2020

CHI Health says they will begin testing for COVID-19. The company says it will be able to complete between 180 and 270 tests per day with a one to two day turnaround. A spokesperson says the tests will be given at CHI Health clinics and hospitals, and testing will be first available to those most at risk. This will start with critically ill patients along with exposed healthcare and EMS workers.

 

Lincoln Journal Star

Thirteen new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Nebraska yesterday, bringing the total number in the state to 81. New cases were reported by Sarpy and Douglas counties, and officials in Omaha say a police officer and firefighter have tested positive for the virus. The Omaha Police Department says the officer recently went out of state, and has self-isolated since he returned.

Gov. Pete Ricketts is urging Nebraska residents to quarantine themselves for at least two weeks if they've recently traveled anyplace that has seen a big outbreak of the new coronavirus, including major U.S. cities. Ricketts is issuing the new precaution as state officials try to keep the virus from spreading, but he says he won't order any tougher restrictions than those already in place. He says residents should quarantine themselves for 14 days after returning home from a hard-hit foreign country or cities such as Denver and Kansas City, which have issued stay-at-home orders.

Drive-Thru Coronavirus Clinic Open In Lincoln

Mar 25, 2020
Bryan Health

Nebraska's first drive-through coronavirus clinic is open in Lincoln.  The screening clinic in the parking lot of Bryan Health's LifePoint Urgent Care Center opened Tuesday afternoon.  Officials say the clinic can accommodate about 12 to 15 patients per hour.  The clinic tested more than 50 patients as of 3/24.

For more information on the Drive-Thru Clinic, please visit bryanhealth.org/drivethru

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) has announced the first death associated with novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The individual was an older adult, 61-80 years of age, and a resident of Dubuque County.

Officials for the Ralston Public School district are confirming that a staff member has tested positive for the coronavirus.  District officials say the staff member works at Ralston High School, and they began to have symptoms on March 16th.  Students were last in the building on March 12th, and the Douglas County Health Department says staff members who had direct contact with the employee have been notified.

Nebraska lawmakers have advanced an $83.6 million emergency funding package to help fight the new coronavirus as Gov. Pete Ricketts sought to assure the public that the state is “well ahead of the curve” compared to others in its response to the global pandemic. The new funding bill sailed through a key procedural vote in the Legislature with no lawmakers dissenting.

Ralston city buildings are closing due to concerns about the spread of coronavirus. Ralston City Hall, Police Department, Volunteer Fire Department and Public Works are closing to the public effective immediately. The city said today that essential services will continue though the public will not be allowed in the buildings to encourage social distancing. All city park restrooms are also closed and the drinking fountains will remain turned off.

Nebraska Covid-19 Total Rises to 33

Mar 20, 2020

Four new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Nebraska yesterday. The Department of Health and Human Services says two cases are from Lincoln County, one is from Nemaha County, and the other is from Sarpy County. Officials say the patient from Sarpy County is currently hospitalized, while the other three are self-isolating. There are now 33 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nebraska.

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is closing public access to its Lincoln headquarters until further notice due to coronavirus spread prevention efforts.  District offices in North Platte, Norfolk and Alliance, as well as service centers in Kearney and Bassett, are also temporarily closing on Friday.  The agency's service center in Omaha is already closed. All Game and Parks visitor centers and park offices will close on Monday.

Shoppers across Nebraska and the nation are having trouble finding enough toilet paper as they hunker down to avoid the spread of the new coronavirus. But some people in Nebraska are finding it — and stealing it — at Interstate 80 rest stops. The rest areas are managed by the state Transportation Department. A spokeswoman told the Lincoln Journal Star that some are staffed and some are not. The rest areas will be closed as a result of the thefts when an attendant is not present. The spokeswoman says truck parking should remain open even if the rest area buildings are closed.

Public health officials in Omaha have confirmed a second coronavirus case whose origins can't be traced. In addition to that “community spread” case discovered in a 46-year-old man, Douglas County health officials said three other travel-related cases have been confirmed in the Omaha area. The news comes as Nebraska officials scramble to increase the number of tests they can conduct each day. Gov. Pete Ricketts said Wednesday that roughly 500 people have been tested so far. The state now has 28 confirmed cases including 24 in the Omaha area.

Nebraska Dental Association Urges Limits On Care

Mar 18, 2020

The Nebraska Dental Association is asking all dental offices to postpone any non-emergency care beginning today. The association says it has been closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19 in the state as dentists are one of the highest risk categories for transmission of coronavirus. The association is also asking healthcare facilities to screen patients before proceeding with an appointment or send a notice to advise patients experiencing acute respiratory issues to remain home and reschedule.

Omaha DMV Limits Access Due To Coronavirus

Mar 18, 2020

The State DMV office in Omaha is no longer accepting walk-in appointments. The office at the County Treasurer's Office is canceling all test drive appointments and customers are being asked to call and reschedule their test at the Omaha or Bellevue office. Customers can still update their information and replace ID cards online.

Council Bluffs Schools Close In Wake Of Coronavirus

Mar 18, 2020

The Council Bluffs School District is working to prepare students as most Iowa schools closed for four-weeks after a recommendation from Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds. The superintendent says teachers helped students fill their backpacks today with laptops, math books, and information about breakfast and lunch programs to keep their learning on track. Superintendent Vickie Murillo says if the virus continues to spread throughout the country and schools become closed for the rest of the year, the school district will reassess.

Reynolds Proclaims Statewide Emergency

Mar 18, 2020
Iowa Public Radio

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds is issuing a State of Public Health Disaster Emergency. The proclamation implements temporary measures to reduce access to restaurants and bars to drive through or carry out only. It closes fitness centers, theaters, casinos, senior citizen centers, and day cares, and cancels or postpones any mass gatherings of more than ten people. It will allow state agencies additional flexibility to respond to COVID-19 in the state to support the work of public health. The proclamation is effective immediately and expires on April 16th.

Nebraska Health and Human Services says Nebraska residents who were on the Grand Princess cruise ship were flown back to the state yesterday.  They had been quarantined at a military facility after the cruise ship docked off the coast of California because coronavirus cases were identified on the ship.  The state says the individuals will self-quarantine for 14 days and be monitored by their local health department upon returning home.  Meanwhile, Nebraska Medicine says a teen from Crofton who tested positive for the coronavirus and was being treated in a biocontainment unit has been disch

Omaha Public Schools will remain closed indefinitely to help limit the spread of the new coronavirus. The Omaha district had earlier announced plans for temporary closures that would extend spring breaks to about two weeks, but officials said Monday there now isn't a tentative date to resume classes. District administrators said they will evaluate health conditions every two weeks and consult with local and state officials as they determine when to reopen. The move followed Nebraska Commissioner of Education Matt Blomstedt's request that schools make plans to cancel classes.

KETV

Coronavirus is bringing a new wave of disruptions in Nebraska.  The Nebraska Department of Corrections is suspending visits, while federal court activity for both civil and criminal cases in the state is being postponed.  The National Weather Service has canceled a statewide tornado drill on March 25th.  The Cornhuskers spring football and volleyball games have been canceled, and the Nebraska School Activities Association has announced the suspension of all practices, activities and competitions.  The Catholic dioceses of Omaha and Lincoln are suspending public Masses.

Kearney Hub

Gov. Pete Ricketts has limited public gatherings to 10 people in an effort to keep the coronavirus from spreading, even though it's likely to mean painful economic times and major disruption to people's lives. Ricketts' announcement will force the cancellation of events statewide and many businesses will shut their doors as people hunker down to try to avoid catching COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. He says he was aligning the state with recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts, Nebraska Department of Education Commissioner Matt Blomstedt, and Department of Labor Commissioner John Albin will host a press conference.  Gov. Ricketts and the commissioners will announce new steps they are taking to provide relief to Nebraskans as they respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.   The Governor and commissioners will make brief remarks before taking questions.  

When: 3:30 p.m.-4:00 p.m. CT on Monday, March 16, 2020

Local Food & Education Resources

Mar 16, 2020
Sgt. 1st Class Mary Rose Mittlesteadt

Lincoln Journal Star

Visitors to Nebraska prisons will have to answer questions about their possible exposure to the new coronavirus as part of an effort to keep staff and inmates from getting infected. The Department of Correctional Services says visitors will still be allowed, as long as they are deemed a low risk. But Director Scott Frakes warned that the policy could change quickly. Visitors, volunteers, contractors and others will be asked to confirm that they are symptom-free, verify if they have had contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 and if they have traveled recently by plane.

Federal courts in Nebraska are nixing all jury trials and grand juries for the rest of the month in a move to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, state courts in Iowa and Nebraska are taking some precautions. An order from Nebraska's Supreme Court chief justice says those at elevated risk of transmitting COVID-19 are barred from attending trials. In Iowa, state courts may conduct meetings and hearings remotely. For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough.

Omaha World Herald

Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert said yesterday that Douglas County may be moving soon to restrict crowds to less than 50 people.  Large events like Saint Patrick's Day activities scheduled for Tuesday are a concern because of potential coronavirus exposure.  The Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium has announced it will be closed through the end of the month starting today, and Stothert said the city's public libraries and community centers are also closing immediately.

UPDATE (03-20-20): Three New COVID-19 Cases Confirmed in Douglas County Three travelers are the latest confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Douglas County.  The Health Department (DCHD) reports these three individuals recently returned from areas in the Southeastern United States where COVID-19 is circulating. They are two men in their 40s and a woman in her 30s. These three individuals traveled to different areas and the cases are not connected.

Nebraska lawmakers are set to take a four-day recess, but they may extend the break to reduce the risk of a coronavirus outbreak at the state Capitol. Speaker of the Legislature Jim Scheer said Thursday that lawmakers were still tentatively planning to reconvene as scheduled on Tuesday, but they may temporarily suspend their session if health officials confirm a community-spread case of the virus in Lincoln during the break.

OPS Announces COVID-19 Preemptive Measures

Mar 12, 2020
OPS.org / Omaha Public Schools

Omaha Public Schools says that beginning Monday, March 16th, all of its schools will be closed for at least one week to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the area.

In today's announcement, OPS Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Logan says the decision to close was made after careful consultation with the Douglas County Health Department, as well as state and local officials. 

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