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New coronavirus cases reported across Nebraska, including Lincoln
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New coronavirus cases reported across Nebraska, including Lincoln

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Two new cases of coronavirus were confirmed Sunday in Lincoln, both travel-related, bringing the city's total to six. 

A woman in her 20s returned from Mexico on March 17, self-quarantined, and developed symptoms two days later. The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department said her close contacts are also self-quarantined, and none have symptoms at this time.

In the second new case, a woman in her 80s traveled to New Orleans on March 6 and went on a seven-day cruise. She returned March 16, and both she and a family member in the same household self-quarantined. She developed symptoms March 18, and had no close contacts with others in the community.

A case reported late Friday afternoon was a man in his 30s who had traveled to Colorado on March 6-8. He became symptomatic March 12. None of his identified contacts are believed to have symptoms at this time.

Two new cases of COVID-19 were also reported in Lincoln County on Sunday, while there were three in Hall County, one in Adams County, two in Sarpy County and nine in Douglas County. Scotts Bluff County also reported its first case.

The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department is now monitoring 120 individuals because of their travel history or exposures. Lancaster County reports 228 negative tests and six positives with 16 cases pending at the Nebraska Public Health Lab.

Nebraska now has 125 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and two deaths.

Officials gave an update Sunday on two cases that were reported March 20 at the Douglas County Health Center long-term care unit involving two women in their 70s and 80s. The women are in stable condition with fever and respiratory issues and in one contained area, said health center administrator Erin Nelson. All other residents are doing well, she said. 

A staff member is believed to have unknowingly brought the infection into the health center, and it was picked up on a routine temperature screening, but evidently not in time to prevent the two women from being infected, officials said. The long-term care center has 237 residents, with a capacity for 254.

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The West Central District Health Department said the new cases in Lincoln County are a man in his 90s and a woman in her 80s. Both are hospitalized.

There are now five confirmed positive cases of the coronavirus in Lincoln County, the department said.

And the Central District Health Department has now reported a total of six confirmed cases in Hall County, with the three new cases reported Sunday.

The South Heartland District Health Department also identified a case in Adams County on Sunday to bring the district's cases to three. The new case involves a woman younger than 20 and is linked to a prior case. She is self-isolating after reporting symptoms, including loss of smell and taste.

The Scotts Bluff County Health Department confirmed that a man in his 30s in the county tested positive for the virus. The man has been self-isolating since Tuesday.

In Sarpy County, two more COVID-19 cases were announced involving individuals in their 30s or 40s, according to the Sarpy/Cass County Health Department. One of the cases is related to a previous case while the other was the result of community spread, bringing the number of cases in Sarpy County to 13.

Sarpy and Cass counties added to their directed health measures on Sunday that as of Tuesday, any event or gathering at a school, child care center, business, wedding or funeral must have 10 or fewer attendants that can distance from each other by at least 6 feet. The measure is in place until April 30. That includes beauty and barber shops, massage businesses and tattoo parlors.

Restaurants and bars are limited to carry-out, drive-thru and delivery. Elective surgeries and procedures are prohibited.

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Three Rivers Public Health Department identified an additional case of COVID-19, as well. The Washington County resident is a female in her 90s and is self-isolating at home.

“As expected, this case is related to the Carter House (retirement and assisted living community in Blair) outbreak and has been identified through a contact investigation,” said Terra Uhing, executive director.

All Carter House residents and staff were tested Sunday and results should be available in 48 hours. It is the ninth case in Washington County and brings the total for the Three Rivers area to 14. 

Carter House residents will be moved out of the facility temporarily, according to Uhing. A number of neighboring health care facilities and hospitals are assisting with the effort. While empty, a complete deep cleaning to disinfect the facility will occur.

The nine Douglas County cases reported Sunday include a man and a woman in their 20s, a woman in her 50s, two women and a man in their 60s, two women in their 70s, and a woman in her 80s. Four of the cases had direct contact with a known case, two cases are travel-related, and one involves community spread.

Adi Pour, Douglas County health director, said at a news conference Sunday afternoon the woman in her 70s who is hospitalized has several underlying health conditions. Others are being investigated.

"As I have said before, more testing, more identification of cases," she said. "We are really lucky in this community that we are seeing testing increasing significantly."

Pour said Omaha has 620 beds available with 43% occupancy, and 264 ventilators with 57 in use.

Pour expressed concern that driving to the news conference she saw streets crowded with people and traffic. And she has heard complaints that big box stores such as Menards, Home Depot, Walmart, Costco and Sam's Club, are as busy as ever. It's not the time to go to home improvement stores to start your house projects, she said.

She'd like to see only people out on nature trails, one or two people together at the most. There has been a 33% reduction in travel according to one study, but that's not enough. To have an effect on the virus it should be more like 75%, she said.

She pleaded with people to take the recommendations for social distancing and hand-washing to heart, because it works. 

On Saturday, Dodge, Gosper, Madison, Platte and Buffalo counties each reported one new case.

Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert said that while the health care workers are known to be the life savers in this, other big life savers are the people of Nebraska in its cities.

"You know, stay home means lives saved. We know that now. And I am pleading with people that are visiting and shopping in these crowded stores to not do it," she said. "I'm pleading with the managers of these stores to please keep the crowds thinned out."

Reach the writer at 402-473-7228 or jyoung@journalstar.com

On Twitter @LJSLegislature

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