The Southeast District Health Department (SEDHD) and its partners are closely monitoring the unfolding outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) that originated in China in early December.
SEDHD anticipates its impact on Nebraska and its healthcare system as the virus spreads to multiple other countries.
“The health department is working with our federal, state, and local partners in preparing for an anticipated response to COVID-19 in the event community transmission develops within Nebraska,” said SEDHD Health Director Grant Brueggemann.
Based on the spread of COVID-19 in other countries, SEDHD is asking residents of Johnson, Nemaha, Otoe, Pawnee, and Richardson counties to self-report to the health department if they have traveled to China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, or Vietnam within the past 14 days.
Informing the health department of recent travel history is the most direct way to ensure timely medical care if needed and to minimize the potential risk to others.
Brueggemann encourages residents to stay informed.
He notes that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website is maintaining up-to-date information regarding the current status of COVID-19 within the United States and includes frequently asked questions, fact sheets, recommendations for travelers and travel restriction notices, and guidance for communities to limit the spread of COVID-19.
“It is very possible that we could see travel-related COVID-19 cases in Nebraska. We are encouraging residents to stay informed and create a family plan in case community transmission of COVID-19 develops in our district,” Brueggemann said.
Residents can help protect themselves and others from COVID-19 and other respiratory infections by: 
Washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based sanitizer.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact with sick people and stay home if you are ill.
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze then throw the tissue in the trash.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
The SEDHD website will contain any updates relevant to southeast Nebraska.
Residents are encouraged to visit the department’s website www.sedhd.org or call the health department toll free at 1-877-777-0424.