Southeast District Health Department shares novel coronavirus facts

Staff Writer
Syracuse Journal-Democrat

Nebraska state and local public health authorities are carefully monitoring the unfolding outbreak
caused by a novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that originated in Wuhan, China (Hubei Province)
in early December. Since that time, travelers moving from the region of the outbreak have
expanded the distribution of the virus to multiple countries around the world, including the
United States.

As of Feb. 7, there are 12 confirmed cases in the United States. None of these cases
are located in Nebraska. While two of the cases resulted from close person-to-person contact
within the United States, the overall risk for infection to the public in Nebraska is low.
“This situation is rapidly evolving, and we continue to use information received from our state
and federal partners to inform our local response,” said Southeast District Health Department
(SEDHD) Health Director Grant Brueggemann.

Patients with 2019-nCoV have reportedly had symptoms ranging from mild to severe respiratory
illness including fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Symptoms have appeared in as few as
two days or as long as 14 days after exposure.

According to Brueggemann, the health department is working closely with local preparedness
partners in Johnson, Nemaha, Otoe, Pawnee, and Richardson counties, including hospitals,
healthcare professionals, and emergency managers.

“The health department has plans in place for a coordinated response to a viral outbreak in the
event the current situation expands into Nebraska,” he said.

Even though the current risk is low, Brueggemann encourages residents to stay informed. He
notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website is maintaining up-to-date
information regarding the current status of 2019-nCoV within the United States and includes
frequently asked questions, fact sheets, recommendations for travelers and travel restrictions, and
guidelines for healthcare professionals.

SEDHD is also asking any travelers who left China within the last two weeks to contact the
health department. Informing SEDHD of recent travel history to China is the most direct way to
ensure timely medical care if needed and to minimize the potential risk to others.

The SEDHD website will contain any updates relevant to the Southeast Nebraska as well as links
to the CDC 2019-nCoV website. Residents are encouraged to visit the department’s website or call the health department toll free at 1-877-777-0424.