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INFECTIOUS DISEASES

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts is allowing health officials to disclose information about people who have tested positive for the coronavirus.  The governor signed an executive order yesterday that permits state and local health officials to use and disclose identifiable health information about COVID-19 patents when they believe it’s in the public's best interest.  The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services will create rules about how the information will be used, and officials say only the minimum amount of necessary information will be disclosed.

A group of doctors has urged Gov. Pete Ricketts to impose stricter measures to limit the spread of COVID-19, just as the state reported 40 new cases of the coronavirus. Ricketts has imposed restrictions on the number of people allowed to gather in one place and has closed bars and restaurants. But the Republican has resisted following the course of leaders in most other U.S. states by imposing a stay-at-home order. Forty-five doctors from Grand Island on Saturday published an open letter warning "the incidence is going to increase dramatically ...

Creighton To Close Campus In Response To Outbreak

Apr 6, 2020

Creighton University is closing its campus because of the COVID-19 outbreak.  The campus will be off-limits to students, staff, faculty and visitors starting tomorrow.  Only critical employees will be allowed to report to campus.

Governor Pete Ricketts announced yesterday that the University of Nebraska is opening up dorm rooms for COVID-19 patients who need to be quarantined. The governor says about 21-hundred beds are being made available at the university's campuses in Lincoln, Omaha and Kearney. Governor Ricketts said the dorm rooms can be used by patients unable to quarantine at home or who are recovering from the virus.

Gov. Pete Ricketts is issuing a stern warning to try to pressure Nebraskans into taking steps to keep the coronavirus from spreading, but reiterating that he won't impose a stay-at-home order as at least 31 other states have done. His comments came as the number of confirmed Nebraska cases rose to 215 as of this morning, with five people dead. New cases have continued to surface daily, with 33 confirmed Wednesday afternoon, up from 25 the previous day and 17 on Monday.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced cancellation of May graduation ceremonies at the state's four University of Nebraska system campuses. Officials say the Lincoln campus intends to hold an online event, and the May graduates have been invited to attend August, December, May 2021 ceremonies or other future commencement. University of Nebraska at Omaha graduates will be recognized through an online streaming commencement on May 8. The Kearney campus plans to combine commencements for spring and summer graduates on July 31.

A new study is predicting hundreds of Nebraskans could die from the coronavirus during the pandemic.  According to the University of Washington study, nearly 450 people in Nebraska could die from COVID-19 complications.  The study also indicates that by late April, Nebraska could see 13 COVID-19 related deaths per day and the state would need 202 ICU beds to treat patients.

Nebraska Tops 150 Coronavirus Cases; Third Related Death

Mar 31, 2020

Nebraska health officials are confirming the state's third coronavirus-related death.  The person who died from COVID-19 is a Lincoln County man in his 90s who had underlying health conditions.  As of yesterday, there were 153 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state.

Omaha World Herald

An Omaha drive-thru clinic that had been sidelined is now ready to test people for the new coronavirus. The Omaha World-Herald reports that the city of Omaha’s planning department on Friday issued a new permit to allow the clinic through April 3. The clinic was initially postponed when the city revoked its first temporary use permit, citing public safety concerns. Mayor Jean Stothert had said at the time that the clinic would overburden Omaha police who would have to provide traffic control.

Nebraska Coronavirus Total Tops 120

Mar 30, 2020

The number of coronavirus cases in Nebraska is growing.  The Douglas County Health Department confirmed nine new cases yesterday, while Sarpy and Cass counties reported two new cases. The city of Lincoln also confirmed two new cases on Sunday, and officials say they were travel-related. There have been 120 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Nebraska and two deaths.

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.

 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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