Coronavirus Outbreak

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. The sample was isolated from a patient in the U.S. 

An Adams County woman in her 40s became the first resident in the South Heartland District Health Department’s four-county service area to test positive for the novel coronavirus disease, or COVID-19, the health department announced Wednesday evening.

The woman, who had traveled to Europe, is self-isolating at home, the health department said in a news release.

The South Heartland health district encompasses Adams, Clay, Webster and Nuckolls counties.

Local health officials now have initiated a “contact investigation” aimed at identifying other individuals who may have been exposed so they can take steps meant to help thwart the spread of the illness.

The health department said close contacts would be notified and asked to place themselves in self-quarantine at home. The health department then will “actively monitor” those individuals’ health.

Active monitoring has been defined as checking in with the individuals twice daily concerning the possible onset of fever or other symptoms consistent with COVID-19.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough and shortness of breath. Individuals who feel ill are asked to contact their health care provider prior to visiting their facility and follow the instructions they are given.

According to the health department, people can help protect themselves from COVID-19 and other respiratory infections by:

Avoiding close contact with sick people and staying home if you are sick.

Washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based sanitizer.

Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

Covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze then throw the tissue in the trash, or cough in your sleeve.

Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.

As of Tuesday evening, a total of 27 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Nebraska, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services reported. A second case was confirmed Wednesday as “community spread” — meaning it cannot be linked back to a traveler either visiting or returning to Nebraska. The Douglas County resident, who is in his 40s, is hospitalized.

SHDHD encourages residents to stay informed by checking SHDHD’s website www.southheartlandhealth.org for local information and updates, as well as links to the state and national websites.

A statewide coronavirus (COVID-19) information line is available to help answer general questions and share the latest information and resources with Nebraskans to help keep them informed. The telephone number is 402-552-6645. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days per week.

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