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(March 14, 2020)

The Douglas County Health Department reports the first local COVID-19 case caused by community spread.

This individual is a woman in her 60s who was reported on Friday, March 13, as a travel-related case. The continuing investigation determined her symptoms appeared before she traveled.

Douglas County Health Director Dr. Adi Pour explained the woman recently saw her doctor before a planned surgery. She tested negative for both influenza and other respiratory viruses, so her doctor tested her for COVID-19.  Her only symptoms were fatigue and a sore throat. "We're starting to see a variety of symptoms," said Dr. Pour. "Potentially, there are people who have the virus but will not have symptoms."

Dr. Pour said the woman's whereabouts and contacts have been identified, and everyone who may have been exposed has been contacted. She did not attend any large gatherings.  Dr. Pour described her condition as "good".

Governor Pete Ricketts said Friday that two community spread cases in Omaha would result in closing schools for 6-8 weeks, and limiting events and large gatherings to 25-50 people. Governor Ricketts said employers will be excluded. If schools are closed for long periods of time, that decision will be re-evaluated every two weeks.

"These steps are being taken to protect our community," said Mayor Jean Stothert.

Douglas County is taking these additional steps to prevent the spread of the virus:

Effective today, visitors will not be allowed at the Douglas County Youth Center. Earlier this week, visits to the Douglas County Health Center were suspended.

Two additional travel cases have been confirmed in Douglas County. Those are a man in his 50s who traveled to and from Spain, and a man in his 30s who came to this community from Singapore. Both are in isolation but neither man is hospitalized.

The Health Department also is advising the public of an additional potential low-level community exposure. A confirmed travel case first reported on Friday, March 13, was at The Athletic Club, 200 South 31st Avenue,  between 5:00 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 12. This is a low-risk exposure. Anyone who may have been there at that time is asked to self-monitor for 14 days. That means take your temperature twice a day and watch for symptoms.

Symptoms of the virus include a fever, cough, sore throat, or difficulty breathing. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, or develop symptoms, contact your health care provider and tell them how you are feeling. Please notify them of any potential exposure to a confirmed case of the novel coronavirus. We ask that you call ahead before you go to the doctor’s office or an emergency room.

Douglas County Health Department epidemiologists will continue contact investigations with everyone who is a confirmed COVID-19 case. The county now has 16 confirmed cases, not including anyone brought to Nebraska Medicine’s Quarantine or Biocontainment Units.