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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

Radio Talking Book Service (RTBS) serves Nebraska and southwest Iowa with a mission to provide human-voiced information choices to individuals who are blind, visually impaired, or have physical disabilities which prevent them from reading.  We are in our 44th year of providing a vital connection for these individuals with the printed word through two programs: Radio Talking Book Network, a statewide radio reading service; and Listening Link, an educational reading program. 

The Radio Talking Book Network (RTBN), founded in 1974, is Nebraska’s audio companion and only radio reading service.  RTBN provides our statewide audience with equal access to local, current information necessary to lead productive, self-directed lives and remain engaged in their communities.  To do this, RTBN uses over 80 volunteer readers, whose diverse voices bring the printed word to life with the reading of 12 regional newspapers, grocery and department store ads weekly, information from over 70 magazines, live interviews on our Community Conversations, a Veterans Hour, and much more. 

Bekah Jerde is the Assistant Director of RTBS.  She stopped by the studios at 33rd and Burt to chat with Mike Hogan about the program and how people can help the cause.

More information can be found at https://rtbs.org/

Julie Sokolow has directed films such as Woman on Fire (Starz, 2017) and Aspie Seeks Love (2015).  Which was covered by KIOS back in 2015. (https://www.kios.org/post/aspie-seeks-love)

Julie directed a new documentary called Barefoot: The Mark Baumer Story that screened at the Omaha Film Festival this March and won an award.  Julie chatted with Mike Hogan "Live & Local" about the film and her excitement for what ended up being an award winning night for her.

Women on a Mission is a non-profit that is ALL about supporting women and girls through partnership, mentoring and socialization. The group facilitates access to services for women and girls to achieve lifelong goals in seven areas: Careers, health, applied life skills, nutrition, growing, your spirituality, education and mentoring. They’re basically trying to change the not-so-good stats – 61% of young women say leadership isn’t important to them.

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.

Nebraska lawmakers have given initial approval to a $9.4 billion, two-year state budget that shovels millions of extra dollars into the state’s rainy-day fund amid fears about the global pandemic caused by the new coronavirus. Lawmakers had already planned to boost the state’s cash-reserve fund after three years of lagging tax collections and tight budgets, but the worldwide panic had many of them warning that the state could face more trouble. The new budget would boost the cash reserve to $731 million by the end of the current two-year budget cycle in June 2022.

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. 

LINCOLN – On Friday, Governor Pete Ricketts, Nebraska Department of Education Commissioner Matt Blomstedt, education leaders, and the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce & Industry will host a press conference.  Gov. Ricketts and education leaders will announce the guidance they will use for school closures.  Additionally, leaders will make remarks on how the Nebraska business community is preparing for the coronavirus pandemic.

This press release just arrived from the Douglas County Health Department:

The Douglas County Health Department (DCHD) continues to investigate the most recent cases of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus. These investigations involve tracing the activities of individuals who are sick in our continuing efforts to contain the disease.

Our epidemiologists have identified two locations as the site of possible low-risk exposures. Those exposures would have occurred during the following times at these locations:

The University of Nebraska Lincoln has just announced that classes have been canceled from March 16 to March 20, and classes will be held March 30 onward remotely, not in person, .  The university and housing units will remain open while students are encouraged to return home if they can.  Students who cannot go home will be supported in residence halls.

The university's statement reads that all non-essential university domestic and international travel has been suspended through the end of the semester.  All summer study-abroad programs through June 30 are canceled.

Nebraska school officials say they're limiting spectators to the state boys basketball tournament to players' immediate family. That news comes on the heels of two more Nebraska residents testing positive for COVID-19, bringing the Nebraska total to five. A Douglas County woman who recently traveled to California and Nevada was added Tuesday. She's recovering at home. The state's fifth case is a 16-year-old student from Crofton High School in northeast Nebraska who attended the state girls basketball tournament in Lincoln last week.

Supermarket chain Hy-Vee is closing four centers that fulfill online orders in Missouri, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska, putting several hundred people out of work. Christina Gayman, a company spokeswoman, said in a statement that fulfillment centers couldn't provide the “full assortment of products, personalized shoppers and same-day pickup" that customers wanted.

Nebraska has moved a step closer to creating a new state commission focused on African American affairs, similar to existing groups that represent Latino Americans and Native Americans. The measure won first-round approval in the Legislature Wednesday on a 32-0 vote. The new, 14-member commission would meet quarterly and be allowed to hire an executive director. Commission members would receive $50 a day while performing commission duties, plus expense reimbursement. The bill by Sen.

The NCAA's decision to close its basketball tournament to the public is expected to have a negative economic impact in Omaha.  Visit Omaha officials say the lack of a crowd at the upcoming games at the CenturyLink Center could mean a loss of five-million-dollars to local businesses including hotels and restaurants.  The NCAA announced yesterday that the upcoming basketball tournament will be closed to fans due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

The NCAA has announced that although March Madness basketball tournament games will carry on as scheduled, only essential personnel and family members will be allowed to attend due to the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

This press release just arrived from the Douglas County Health Department:

"The Douglas County Health Department (DCHD) has launched a contact investigation into the county’s latest case of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus.  This involves tracing the activities of the individual who is sick in a continuing effort to contain the disease.

Our epidemiologists have identified the Advanced Auto Parts store at 17140 Evans Plaza as a location where members of the public may have been exposed to COVID-19.

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