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Eric Barber, President & CEO of Mary Lanning Healthcare, speaks Thursday morning at city hall during a press conference addressing first case of COVID-19 in Adams County. Barber said Mary Lanning Healthcare is limiting visitors and elective procedures as they prepare for the novel coronavirus.

With the availability of tests for the novel coronavirus disease, or COVID-19, still limited, self-quarantine is the best course of action available for individuals in the Hastings area who are showing symptoms or have traveled to high-risk areas and don’t want to risk spreading an illness.

That’s the message from Mary Lanning Healthcare, which issued a news release Tuesday urging the public to be open to the idea of self-quarantine as a means of thwarting the spread of the virus.

Eric Barber, Mary Lanning president and CEO, and Dr. Abel Luksan, chief medical officer, said individuals for whom a 14-day self-quarantine is recommended should take it upon themselves to comply.

If an individual’s symptoms are severe enough to require medical attention, that person should call his or her primary care provider first. If the provider decides the patient should be seen, the patient should follow the instructions given over the telephone.

Luksan said patients first will be tested for influenza and other illnesses. If the patient meets screening criteria and the early testing suggests he or she needs it, COVID-19 testing will be done.

Based on the current heavy workload for laboratories across the United States, test results can take time to come back. Furthermore, the tests aren’t being given to everyone at this time.

“Please do not come to the clinics requesting tests,” Barber said. “Tests are available but should be used for patients who are symptomatic and have been screened.”

Mary Lanning wants to assure the community that “we are doing our best to meet the needs of our patients and the community as a whole,” the news release says, citing Barber.

Luksan emphasized the importance of self-quarantine as a key strategy for managing the current situation.

“If symptoms are mild or you have traveled to high-risk areas and don’t yet have symptoms, we are asking people to self-quarantine,” Luksan said. “Let’s look at this like a community service. You are helping the community by staying home for 14 days. At this time, everybody in the United States is also encouraged to practice social distancing until further notice.”

For a list of affected areas, which is changing constantly, visit the websites of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html) or the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (http://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx#SectionLink1).

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