This is an email from Nebraska Medicine critical care anesthesiologist Dan Johnson, MD, to his friends and family about the seriousness of COVID-19. It is shared with permission from Dr. Johnson.
The COVID-19 pandemic will be a challenge to the USA unlike any we have experienced in our lifetime. For the last several weeks, I have been involved in multiple meetings each day where I get to hear the thoughts of experts in the field of pandemics, specifically about this pandemic, and what we need to do.
If anyone hears from family or friends who think this is “no big deal,” or that the USA’s response has been excessive, please know that they are very wrong. I’m sure you have all read about the many reasons that this is NOT “just like flu.” The numbers of infected, worldwide and in the USA, are extreme underestimates (because many infected have not been tested). The best metric to use, right now, is talking with hospital workers in the hotbeds, and asking them what their situation is.
I have been in communication with a friend who is a critical care physician from the Lombardy region of Italy. The health care workers there are living in a nightmare, having to decide who lives and who dies from lack of oxygen because their health care system is overwhelmed.
In the USA, we have three pathways for COVID-19:
The country views this challenge like WWI and WWII, and almost everyone does the right things, and we will be harmed but okay.
Many people do the right things, and many don’t, and we will have the same struggles that Italy is enduring.
People blow this disease off as no big deal, and our health care system (and life as we know it) will be crippled.
You have all probably seen the concept of “flatten the curve.” If we fail to flatten the curve, and we fail to eliminate the portion of yellow above that line, there will be dire consequences:
More people, including some of our friends and family, will die.
Health care workers like me, Rachel, and several of you are at higher risk of dying.
All health care workers will have to witness the needless deaths of patients who could have survived.
In the SARS-1 outbreak, critical care doctors and nurses in Asia and Canada acquired life-long PTSD from watching patients gasp for air and die because they did not have enough ventilators. SARS-1 was nothing compared to COVID-19. If we do not flatten the curve, Rachel, Bridget, and I will have to witness many of these types of deaths.
In the absence of a vaccine or an anti-viral in the immediate future, our best chance to avoid overwhelming our hospitals is non-pharmaceutical interventions. The two best ways to do that are (1) social distancing, and (2) excellent hygiene.
Please check out these simulations from the Washington Post, and share this article.
The best ways for you to achieve social distancing are pretty simple:
You and your kids should stay home. This includes not going to church, not going to the gym, not going anywhere.
Do not travel for enjoyment until this is done. Do not travel for work unless your work truly requires it.
Avoid groups of people. Not just crowds, groups. Just be around your immediate family. I think kids should just play with siblings at this point – no play dates, etc.
When you must leave your home (to get groceries, to go to work), maintain a distance of six feet from people. REALLY stay away from people with a cough or who look sick.
When you do get groceries, etc., buy twice as much as you normally do so that you can go to the store half as often. Use hand sanitizer immediately after your transaction, and immediately after you unload the groceries.
I’m not saying people should not go to work. Just don’t leave the house for anything unnecessary, and if you can work from home, do it.
Everyone on this email, besides Mom and Dad, are at low risk for severe disease if/when they contract COVID-19. While this is great, that is not the main point. When young, well people fail to do social distancing and hygiene, they pick up the virus and transmit it to older people who are at higher risk for critical illness or death. So everyone needs to stay home. Even young people.
Tell every person over 60, and every person with significant medical conditions, to avoid being around people. Please do not have your kids visit their grandparents if you can avoid it. FaceTime them.
Our nation is the strongest one in the world. We have been through other extreme challenges and succeeded many times before. We WILL return to normal life. Please take these measures now to flatten the curve, so that we can avoid catastrophe.
Latest updates on coronavirus in Lincoln and nearby
See the latest news as more coronavirus cases are identified in Nebraska.
Tournament attendance will be limited to immediate family members of coaches and players.
More than 1,000 residents have now been diagnosed with COVID-19 in Lincoln and Lancaster County, health officials announced Friday.
After 30 days at the medical center and three weeks of isolation at her father’s home in west Omaha, Emma Hutchinson was allowed to resume eating solid food and say goodbye to “Fred,” her nickname for the feeding tube.
Lincoln residents, many donning masks and keeping their distance from others, visited local cemeteries to pay their respects.
Jenny Michener was feted by a drive-thru party celebrating her graduation from Lincoln Southeast on a day devoted to grads.
The Nebraska National Guard has been actively engaged on the front lines of the state's battle against the coronavirus.
Church leaders in Nebraska are used to making tough decisions for their congregations. But now, in the midst of a pandemic, churches must weig…
More than 3,000 high school seniors in Lincoln are graduating into a world nobody’s navigated before, staring into a pandemic that has closed schools, slashed families’ economic security and, for many graduates, changed their college plans.
NU athletic director Bill Moos knows he and his staff will be judged on how they handle their business during the pandemic. So far, so good.
David Graff works remotely these days, as do the hundreds who call Hudl's high-tech headquarters in the Haymarket their workplace.
Intensive care hospital beds at less than 20% available.
At this point, Bill Moos says, he can't say for certain that Nebraska will play all — or even any — of its non-conference games.
Retirement didn't last long for former Lincoln Fire and Rescue Chief Mike Despain.
Moos said Nebraska's plan for bringing student-athletes back to campus is detailed and thorough enough that the Big Ten requested that it be shared with other schools in the conference.
There might be more hand sanitizer and disinfectants in the ballpark than spectators, but there will be baseball in the Capital City.
Lost revenue and potential future impacts on state funding led UNL to freeze salaries for the year, Chancellor Ronnie Green said.
We're putting together a list of businesses that are reopening in the Lincoln area. Let us know your plans by emailing email@example.com.
Almost two-thirds of Nebraska's 49 senators are in a high-risk category for COVID-19 complications because of age or underlying health conditions.
Three more inmates at the Community Corrections Center-Omaha have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total to seven inmates who have t…
Nebraska is delaying volleyball season ticket renewals due to pandemic-related uncertainty, the school confirmed to the Journal Star on Wednesday.
At middle and high schools across the city, teachers made signs and hung decorations and put on costumes and played music to help students note the end of a school year where dining room tables and bedroom desks became the classroom.
Monday's flyover was part of a pre-planned training flight and included more than 30 Nebraska hospitals, ending with those in Lincoln.
Prosecutors charged Nyadak Tut, of Lincoln, with assault on a health care professional, a felony.
As other establishments slowly begin to open their doors, John Losito and Jason Korn think it could be time to do the same.
Laboratory testing showed the new mask caught more than 90% of airborne particles expelled into the mask.
Sen. Ben Sasse spoke during Fremont High School's virtual graduation Saturday and spent a majority of his speech ripping China for causing the pandemic and making jokes about psychologists and people named Jeremy.
The first wedding party to celebrate at the Lincoln Commercial Club Ballroom had plenty of room to keep their distance -- and to set up a game of cornhole.
A Lincoln woman exhibited many of the symptoms associated with COVID-19 but tested negative -- doctors say she's not the only one.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson are taking the lead on the coalition. The letter is also signed by attorneys general in Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Tennessee and West Virginia.
Romeo Guerra sensed this national trend would prove out in the Lincoln area before the data arrived, he said.
Journal Star photographers have captured life in the city for the past months with some activities going on as usual but many sights out of the norm.
From Christmas lights in Minden to a COVID-19 test relay by the State Patrol, many people have stepped up to spread cheer and kindness in Linc…
Lincoln police didn't write any tickets for a violation of Lancaster County's directed health measure, according to city officials.
Lincoln needs to outlaw price-gouging during emergencies such as this pandemic, City Councilman James Michael Bowers said Monday.
For Marci Davison of Carmela's, and other Lincoln business owners, reopening after a trying six weeks marked a milestone of sorts.
Lincoln city officials reported 40 more COVID-19 cases Monday, bringing the county total to 647.
Gov. Pete Ricketts called the suggestion "ludicrous."
This columnist isn't ready to dine out yet, and some local venues aren't ready to have customers in the door yet, either. Find out who's in and who is waiting for COVID-19 cases to dwindle.
While facing technological, social and financial challenges, the percentage of students who did at least some coursework ranged from 44% at North Star to 90% at Southwest, and most schools had less than 60% of students engaging, according to rough estimates.
The city begins its new directed health measure on Monday. It runs through June 30.
The county's report comes on the heels of a round of testing for all workers at Tyson’s Dakota City plant. The county's total is now the highest in the state.
On Thursday, during both National Nurses Week and National Hospitals Week, the selfie walls were installed at both Bryan East and Bryan West Campus hospitals.
Lincoln and Lancaster County will implement eased restrictions beginning Monday, after Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird and her health director relu…
At least one Nebraska health department says it will no longer report COVID-19 case numbers linked to specific meatpacking plants after Gov. Pete Ricketts raised health privacy concerns.
A Lincoln family recreates a "Wishtree" in their front yard as a way to share hopes during the pandemic.
Officers broke up recent beach parties with more than 100 people.
Gov. Ricketts said he has tried to balance restrictions with a regional loosening of mandates that preserves citizen willingness and responsibility, an approach sometimes described as "the hammer and the dance."
The rate of new COVID-19 cases in Lincoln and Lancaster County has led a national coronavirus case tracking system to label the area as a pote…
Months of planning and entire careers in public health have prepared the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department for what one employee called "the most defining moment of most of our lives."
As the coronavirus pandemic stretches on, questions continue to trickle into the Journal Star newsroom asking if the Lincoln-Lancaster County …
B&R is seeing higher costs for many pork and beef products and supply is limited, the stores' marketing director said.
Cain revealed on a video posted to Huskers.com that some of her immediate family members have recovered after bouts with coronavirus.
Viengxay Khuninh, a worker at a Tyson plant in Dakota City, developed a cough, then a fever, last month. Less than a week later, he was dead.
Air National Guard member spends several weeks working in New York City hospital, goes home with COVID-19.
“The stories that came from those families, you could hear the common themes — I’m frightened, my hours were reduced, I’ve never been in this situation before,” said Foundation for LPS President Wendy Van DeLaCastro.
So why did one customer come to Gateway Friday? "Sick of sitting at home. Wanted to get a new pair of kicks. My wife’s at work. I’ve got nothing to do.”
At least 48 of those who have died in Nebraska thus far because of the coronavirus were residents of long-term care facilities.
The 669 workers with the virus represent over 15% of the Dakota City plant's workforce.
Arnold Zimmerman's family had his obituary written.
The Lincoln Airport, which already has seen its passenger numbers crater because of COVID-19, is about to take another hit.
Hospitals in Nebraska have "all agreed to cooperate," the state's chief medical officer said, and that means Omaha hospitals can "use Lincoln capacity if necessary" to meet their needs.
More Lincoln restaurants can go al fresco to bump up their serving capacities while keeping diners socially distanced.
On a calendar void of the Red-White Spring Game, the Lincoln Marathon and the blue jackets of the annual state FFA convention, the loss of the…
Bryan Health officials said they believe COVID-19 cases are stabilizing even as they reported what appears to be the highest number so far of …
"I wouldn't be running this test in this laboratory if I didn't believe in it," said CHI Health St. Elizabeth lab director Becky Croner. "... If there is any reason I don't believe the results are correct, we pull it and run it again."
Officials say Nebraska's economy may have also fared better overall during the downturn because the state's social-distancing measures weren't as strict as most states imposed.
Six weeks ago, a Boy Scout from Firth launched a 3-D printing project to help the sore ears of frontline workers during the pandemic; he's shipping free EarSavers all over the country now.
Catholic Social Services of Southern Nebraska, The Salvation Army and other local charities are working to support Nebraskans struggling to pay their rent, mortgage and utilities during the coronavirus pandemic.
On a quiet street in Lincoln, a musician plays the accordion during the pandemic, delighting neighbors and passersby.
No official city fireworks this year, Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird said. What do you think of the decision?
For nine weeks, Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird and interim Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Director Pat Lopez made daily on-camera appeara…
Though state-level data about the effects of COVID-19 on Nebraskans remain incomplete, the numbers indicate minorities were diagnosed with the…
"We are encouraging anyone who goes to a rally to please wear a face mask (and) try to keep some distance between yourself and others so that everyone can stay safe tonight and in the coming weeks," Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird said Tuesday.
Loosening of restrictions, protests could lead to more infections, and Bryan Health officials said people need to be aware of the potential signs.
Together, the Winnebago and Omaha cases add up to 95 of Thurston County's 110 total cases. The county's one death attributed to COVID-19 was a Winnebago resident.
A Lincoln woman started a Facebook photo page to share pictures of what she was making during the pandemic. She thought she'd be lucky to get 80 members.
The survey will ask parents which options would work best for their families if the COVID-19 situation is severe enough that schools can’t operate normally
Amid uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, applications to the NY system from Nebraska students are up 6.4% from a year ago.
“We’ve waited 80 days," said Pete Watters, owner of Lincoln's Zoo Bar. "We can wait a couple more.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has shut down numerous Lincoln businesses and put thousands of local residents out of work.
There have been few if any cases of COVID-19 confirmed in workers at the Cargill plant in Nebraska City.
A 9-year-old Lexington boy is believed to be the first known Nebraska case of a coronavirus-related complication that affects children.
The COVID-19 death toll in Lancaster County reached double digits Friday, the same day the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department upgraded…
Lancaster County added 27 coronavirus cases Sunday, but reported no new deaths, according to the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department.
Nebraska now has a second case of a coronavirus-related complication that affects children.
As new coronavirus cases have begun to slow in Lincoln, Bryan Health reported its lowest number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in two months.
Lincoln's first person identified to have a case of community spread COVID-19 had his family tested for antibodies. Both the results and what they mean are mixed.
Officials said they plan to test all National Guard personnel who have been on duty assisting police in Lincoln and Omaha.
Eleven employees and one patient have tested positive for the coronavirus at the state-run psychiatric hospital in Lincoln.
They call it "window wellness," a visit to residents of assisted-living facilities who can't have visitors in the buildings because of COVID-19 precautions.
From a heart transplant to a cross-country move, the Santana family has seen plenty of tough times over the years.
Inmates in Nebraska's 10 prisons may voluntarily seek coronavirus testing even if they show no symptoms, Nebraska Department of Correctional S…
Nebraska could suffer nearly $3.7 billion in agricultural income losses this year due to the coronavirus if economic conditions do not improve…
County treasurer Rachel Garver announced Wednesday that offices will begin reopening on Monday, though some services will be altered in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Bryan Health said it now has only nine patients with confirmed cases of the virus. That's down from 13 on Monday and 30 on June 1.
The owner of LP Fitness in northeast Lincoln had to get creative to maintain her community-oriented workouts during a time when people have been encouraged to stay apart.
Arnold, Ballard, Belmont, Irvingdale and Woods will have three daily 90-minute swim sessions to allow staff to disinfect surfaces during breaks.
Deaths in Nebraska linked to the coronavirus spiked this week, climbing by 21 — to 216 — over recent days.
The Heartland Workers Center has seen somewhat disastrous results from employees not knowing what's going on in their workplaces.
The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department reported 110 cases in the last seven days, a decline from 145 a week ago and down from 299 when cases peaked locally on May 9.
Gov. Pete Ricketts on Monday announced the further loosening of restrictions implemented to control the spread of the coronavirus in Nebraska,…
City officials announced 15 new lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Lancaster County on Monday, bringing the total to 1,487.
The risk dial remains in the moderate category, but the dial inched closer to the low risk area.
A few thousand visitors have strolled around the zoo each day since it reopened on June 1.
"Customers may be encouraged to wear face coverings, but may not be refused service for failure to do so," according to Taylor Gage, the governor's spokesman.
The budget also asks for 2% more in state appropriations over the next two years, what NU called a "modest increase" reflective of its efforts to be a good partner to state lawmakers during the crisis.
Parents who oppose having students and staff wear masks when school resumes in the fall asked the Lincoln Board of Education to reconsider the…
A Nebraska woman claims a county official from Kansas and his wife may have exposed her to COVID-19 at a hotel pool in Valentine.
If you are hoping antibody testing for COVID-19 might help in getting things back to normal until there's a vaccine, you're likely to be disap…
State Sen. Mike Moser was working outside in his yard the night before Mother’s Day when it became apparent something was wrong.
So far this month, 65% of the positive cases have been in people under 40, interim Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department Director Pat Lopez said Friday.
Nebraska has tested roughly 250 student-athletes and staff, and there have been eight positive tests, including five football players.
Plans are to host 4-H exhibits and contests on the first weekend of the fair, and FFA activities on the second weekend. The fair might "go dark" during the week, director Bill Ogg said.
The decision by Lincoln Public Schools to bring staff and students back to school in the fall, Brent Toalson worried, would pose too great a chance that he could expose his family to the virus.
Professor Heather Hallen-Adams has used her artistic talent and interest in nature -- and whimsy -- to create almost daily chalk drawings to brighten the days of her neighbors and passersby.
The first day for LPS students is Aug. 12, with students in grades 7, 8, 10, 11 and 12 following a day later. The first day of preschool will be Aug. 17.
As bad as the losses from major event cancellations are, economists say the economic damage they cause is likely to pale compared to the effects of the widespread closings of restaurants, retail stores and other businesses.
Pat Lopez, interim director of the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department, stressed the importance of tests for those who gathered among large crowds.
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus will look a lot different for the fall 2020 semester.
Eleven employees and one patient have tested positive for the coronavirus at the state-run psychiatric hospital in Lincoln.
The Event Center pre-party will feature Omaha country band Silas Creek with food trucks on the grounds and beverage sales.
Less than a day after announcing plans to hold drive-thru graduations at high schools, Lincoln Public Schools made arrangements for modified in-person ceremonies to be held at the arena.
Scott Frost said NU has been aggressive from the start in its approach to working through the pandemic, with an obvious eye on safety.
In 30 years of operating the Omaha and Lincoln Bike Rack shops, Jim Carveth said this is the busiest he has ever been.
Bryan Health will offer a one-time opportunity for two visitors to see COVID-19 patients who are near death, hospital system officials announc…
The NSAA will return to its normal summer protocol heading into a fall high school sports season. At least for now.
Much of what the coming school year will look like -- masks for students or remote learning -- depends on the "risk dial" maintained by the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department.
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