Health officials have contacted people who might have been exposed to the single active coronra virus case in Lincoln County. Those people have been told to isolate themselves.
At a 10 a.m. press conference Wednesday morning, Shannon Vanderheiden of the West Central Health Department said no one else is in any immediate danger of contagion. The man kept to himself and contacted the health department immediately. The department made arrangements for him to go the GPH emergency room. The man does not have a regular local medical provider.
GPH Chief Executive Officer Mel McNae said the man was at the hospital’s registration counter for 47 seconds, then placed in a room. He spoke to a physician via teleconference. The nurse who attended him was fully suited in personal protective equipment.
The man was sent home and quarantined there and his conditions are monitored. The hospital room was cleaned and sanitized, McNae said.
Also, the North Platte Recreation Center and Library closed Wednesday morning, Mayor Dwight Livingston said at the press conference.
Livingston said there were problems monitoring people coming into the rec center, and the library closed for safety reasons. He said the library staff is still working and will take phone calls and provide curbside service. No books or other materials should be returned to the library until further notice.
Livingston said private gyms and other businesses are asked to limit gatherings to 10 people or less.
Vanderheiden asked people to consider the next two weeks as a time to hit the “pause button” and see how things develop.
McNae said GPH has been preparing for the worst since January. They have plenty of food to accommodate an influx of patients and have ordered more medical supplies.
GPH has been communicating and planning with nursing homes. They are prepared to treat residents at the nursing homes rather than use bed at the hospital, should the situation escalate.
For the safety of physicians, providers and patients, GPH staff are no longer traveling out of state for work, and the hospital has beefed up security, McNae said.
Only symptom immediate family members over the age of 14 are allowed to visit patients. Visitors are screened at the entrance. The hospital has begun to screen employees too.
McNae said if health care providers succumb to illness, physicians cannot be brought in from other states, which emphasizes the importance of reducing the number of potential patients by taking extraordinary precautions.
North Platte Public Schools spokeswoman Tina Smith said the Nebraska Family Helpline 888-866-8660 can help families manage the stress of school closures as well as behavioral and mental issues it might present to children.
Smith told families and students they are missed and on the teachers’ minds, and became a little choked up when she said it.
Smith said schools did not have protocol in place for a situation of this magnitude so they are handling it day-by-day. A press conference is planned at 1:30 p.m. Friday to announce the district’s decision about the duration of the closures.