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Lincoln urging travelers to certain cities to self-quarantine; new guidelines for COVID-19 testing
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Lincoln urging travelers to certain cities to self-quarantine; new guidelines for COVID-19 testing

Coronavirus Briefing

Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird speaks at a news conference about the coronavirus at the City-County Building on March 11.

Lincoln-Lancaster County Interim Health Director Pat Lopez on Thursday urged any residents who recently returned from international travel, specific U.S. cities or counties with known COVID-19 outbreaks to self-quarantine for two weeks.

Residents who have recently returned from another country or have been to Seattle, New York City, Santa Clara County, California, and Eagle, Gunnison, Pitkin and Summit counties in Colorado need to quarantine themselves for 14 days to limit the spread of COVID-19 in Nebraska, she said.

Domestic travelers should limit public interactions, practice strict social distancing measures and monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19 upon their return to Lincoln, Lopez said.

State health officials on Thursday issued this guidance while also updating testing recommendations for health care providers in Nebraska.

Widespread transmission of the disease nationally led Nebraska to broaden the symptoms of COVID-19, according to a Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services announcement.

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Patients should self-isolate if they have any or a combination of the following symptoms without a known alternative diagnosis: cough, shortness of breath, sore throat or temperature of 100.4 degrees Farenheit or higher.

People who are self-monitoring should take their temperature twice daily and be alert of any cough, sore throat or difficulty breathing, she said.

Should these symptoms develop, the person should isolate themselves, limit contact with other people and seek medical advice by phone.

Testing capacity remains scarce and a concern in Lincoln, Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird said.

Her administration continues to push for increased capacity and make the city's desire for more testing known to federal and state officials, she said.

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Absent of more testing capabilities in Lincoln, tests continue to be prioritized for health care workers, public safety personnel, staff and residents at nursing and group homes, day care attendees and employees, as well as the most vulnerable -- patients older than 60 or with underlying health conditions, Lopez said.

Under updated state guidance issued Thursday, people with symptoms of COVID-19 but who screen negative for influenza and other respiratory diseases will be considered presumptive positive for the pandemic disease, Lopez said.

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They should self-quarantine for two weeks as they wait for resolution of their symptoms, she said.

Overall, Lincoln residents who are not sick should continue to practice social distancing, cover their cough and sneezes, wash their hands frequently and clean regularly used surfaces, city officials said.

Reach the writer at 402-473-2657 or rjohnson@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSRileyJohnson.

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