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Citizens of Douglas County and its municipalities:

Douglas County, its municipalities, our health care partners, and first responders are working diligently to protect public health and safety as the coronavirus spreads. We are working together to lower the risk of transmission and infection and reduce the impact on our community. This is a rapidly changing situation that requires action, flexibility and thorough, accurate information. These are our priorities as we develop and update plans to protect our citizens, our employees, and to continue county and municipality operations and services.  

Clare Duda, Chairman, Douglas County Board of Commissioners

Mayor Jean Stothert, City of Omaha

Mayor Don Groesser, City of Ralston

Mayor Matt John, City of Bennington 

Mayor Carroll Smith, City of Valley  

Mayor Travis Harlow, Village of Waterloo

 

COMMUNITY RESOURCES

To see COVID-19 related data and maps, click here. 

 

Douglas County Health Department COVID-19 Information Line
Se Habla Español
402-444-3400
8:30am - 4:00pm,  Monday-Sunday  **NEW EXTENDED HOURS**

Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services COVID-19 Information Line 
402-552-6645
8 a.m. - 8 p.m. CST, 7 days a week

Any day after 8 p.m., call 2-1-1

CHI Health:
Website: www.CHIHealth.com/coronavirus click on “Take Questionnaire”

Children’s Hospital & Medical Center:
ChildrensOmaha.org/COVID

Methodist Health System:
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Hotline: 402-815-SICK (7425)
Website: https://www.bestcare.org/covid-19/

Nebraska Medicine:
1-800-922-0000
NebraskaMed.com/COVID

OrthoNebraska:
Website: https://www.orthonebraska.com/covid-19/
Phone: (402) 609-2600
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

BEHAVIORAL HEALTH RESOURCES:

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Disaster Distress
Hotline: 1-800-985-5990
Messaging: text TalkWithUs to 66746.
More information: https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/disaster-distress-helpline

Boys Town National Hotline
Hotline: 1-800-448-3000.
Email for speech- and hearing-impaired: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
More information: https://www.boystown.org/hotline/Pages/default.aspx

The Nebraska Family Helpline
Helpline: 1-888-866-8660
More information: http://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/Nebraska-Family-Helpline.aspx

Methodist Emotional Support Line
402-815-8255
7:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m
Monday-Sunday

 

Many of Douglas County's favorite attractions are currently closed.  For a list, please go to https://www.visitomaha.com/closings/

 

COMMUNITY NEWS AND UPDATES

TWO ADDITIONAL DEATHS REPORTED IN DOUGLAS COUNTY 

(April 4, 2020) - The Douglas County Health Department has confirmed two additional deaths related to COVID-19 in the county.

They are a man and a woman, both over 70 years of age, and both had multiple co-morbidities.

Douglas County Health Department on Saturday announced preliminary test results for 12 new positive cases of COVID-19. The cases include three men in their 20s and 30s, two men in their 60s, and a man in his 80s. Four women in their 30s and 40s, a woman in her 50s and a woman in her 60s. Six of them had contact to a known case, one involved travel and another was the result of community spread. The other four cases remain under investigation.

The Health Department is emphasizing the importance of practicing social distancing in everything the public does. This includes outdoor activities like team sports and family gatherings.

Please know the COVID-19 symptoms, which include a fever, cough, sore throat, or difficulty breathing. If you have COVID-19 symptoms or develop symptoms, contact your health care provider and tell them how you are feeling and any possible history of exposure, then call ahead before you go to the doctor’s office or an emergency room. Douglas County Health Department's information line is still open at (402) 444-3400 for anyone with general questions about COVID-19. The number is answered daily from 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Nebraska DHHS has a COVID-19 information line open from 8 a.m.- 8 p.m. daily at (402) 552-6645. Any calls outside those hours are handled by the United Way’s 2-1-1 Resource Hotline.

 

DOUGLAS COUNTY HEALTH CENTER RESIDENT DIES AFTER CONTRACTING COVID-19

(April 4, 2020) - A man in his 80s who was on hospice care at Douglas County Health Center contracted COVID-19 and subsequently passed away. The man had several co-morbidities, but it has been determined that his acute cause of death was due to the COVID-19 virus.

“This is extremely difficult for all of us at the Health Center and our sincere condolences go out to the family,” said Erin Nelson, administrator of Douglas County Health Center. “We will continue to do all that we can to ensure the safety and well-being of our residents and staff."

Since March 29, 2020, the Health Center has had 18 positive COVID-19 cases – 13 long-term care residents and five employees.

“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I would like to offer the family our deepest and most sincere condolences,” said Douglas County Commissioner Mary Ann Borgeson. 

Douglas County Health Center officials continue to adhere to CDC recommendations and are in constant communication with the infectious disease team at Nebraska Medicine for guidance specific to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

DOUGLAS COUNTY REPORTS 10 NEW COVID-19 CASES, 129 TOTAL

(April 3, 2020) - The Douglas County Health Department is reminding everyone that social distancing remains the best protection against the COVID-19 outbreak. That includes social distancing for indoor and outdoor activities.

Douglas County Health Department announced preliminary test results for 10 new positive cases of COVID-19 on Friday. The cases include eight women and two men. Four of the cases involve individuals in their 20s and 30s, two women in their 40s, a man in his 50s, a woman in her 60s, another woman is in her 80s, and one woman whose age is still to be confirmed.

Four of these individuals had contact with known cases, three resulted from community spread, two are travel-related and one remains to be determined. The Health Department reminds everyone to take precautions throughout the community to avoid a COVID-19 infection. You also should consider that many people who are sick have mild symptoms. According to the CDC, four out of five people who have become ill acquired the disease from someone who didn’t know they had the disease.

DOUGLAS COUNTY HEALTH CENTER CONFIRMS ADDITIONAL COVID-19 CASES

(April 3,2020) - Douglas County officials received confirmation today that five long-term care residents and two staff members of the Douglas County Health Center have tested positive for COVID-19.  

All five residents are being isolated in their rooms at the Health Center and are being monitored by staff. The two employees are in isolation at home. All are in stable condition.

Since March 29, 2020, the Health Center has had 18 positive COVID-19 cases – 13 long term-care residents and five employees.

“Our leadership team is working closely with the experts at Nebraska Medicine’s Biocontainment Unit to ensure the safety of all our residents and staff,” said Erin Nelson, administrator of Douglas County Health Center. “I’m hopeful with the negative test results we have received that we have the virus contained.”

All employees at the Health Center are trained and required to wear N95 masks. They are also screened with temperature checks prior to the start of their shifts. Visitation at the Health Center has been suspended since March 10, 2020.

Douglas County Health Center officials continue to adhere to CDC recommendations and are in constant communication with the infectious disease team at Nebraska Medicine for guidance specific to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We know that COVID-19 is impacting our elderly population and nursing facilities all across the United States,” said Douglas County Commissioner Mary Ann Borgeson. “We will continue to work with our community partners and public health experts to stay on top of this and do everything we can to protect our residents and staff.”

 

DOUGLAS COUNTY COURTHOUSE RESTRICTS ACCESS BEGINNING APRIL 6

(April 3, 2020) - The Chief Justice of the Nebraska Supreme Court has agreed to a request from numerous State, County and City officials to limit access to the Hall of Justice and the courtrooms located in the Civic Center. 

Additionally, the City Prosecutor's Office will be closed to the public. There will be limited staff working in the office to handle matters, including arraignments of individuals incarcerated at the Douglas County Correctional Center. 

Beginning on Monday, April 6, 2020 until April 20, 2020, there will be limited court proceedings in the Douglas County Court. All trials, preliminary hearings, sentencings and other such criminal matters have been continued during this time period. Arraignments and bond settings pleas for incarcerated individuals will proceed using a videoconferencing system. 

Individuals who still have business, will be allowed into the building. This business includes protection orders, small claims filings, paying a fine and others. Those appearing for a protection order hearing can also have access. Building security will greet members of the public, determine their business and direct them to the appropriate office. They will then be escorted out of the building. 

These steps are being taken to properly deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This should reduce foot traffic into the building and allow for departments to allow more people to work from home, 

The Nebraska Supreme Court has granted this request for the two week period. The Chief Justice will consider a further extension of these restrictions, if requested and the situation warrants. 

 

OMAHA DOUGLAS PUBLIC BUILDING COMMISSION ANNOUNCES LIMITED ACCESS TO CIVIC CENTER 

(April 3, 2020) -  The public will have limited access to the Omaha Douglas Civic Center (City/County Building) beginning April 6 through April 19, 2020. The restrictions may be extended if conditions warrant.  Omaha Douglas Public Building Commission Administrator Paul Cohen announced the temporary change today.

The Nebraska Supreme Court has allowed for restricted public access to the courtrooms located in the Civic Center. Those individuals needing access to courts in the Civic Center will be allowed entrance. The person or persons scheduled to be at a hearing/court proceeding should be the only one attending. Security officers will escort them to and from the proper location,” Cohen said.

Some mandatory public meetings scheduled to be held in the Civic Center will continue as planned. The public may attend the meetings; however, attendees will be escorted by Security officers to the location of those meetings. Distancing and gathering density guidelines will be maintained.

Douglas County departments located in the Civic Center are staffed and operating but are closed to public walk-ins.

City offices remain open and departments that provide public services will continue to provide those services. Mayor Jean Stothert's office will also remain open and staffed.

Each department and agency in the Civic Center has its own policies and rules in place. Accordingly, employees will continue to have access to the building as determined by the department or agency

“We have already seen many departments initiate work-from-home schedules that dramatically reduced the number of employees in the building on a daily basis,” Cohen said. “Similarly, the growing capability to accomplish city and county business on-line further reduces the need for in-person contact in our building.”

 

DOUGLAS COUNTY HEALTH DIRECTOR: SOCIAL DISTANCING CRITICALLY URGENT 

(April 2, 2020) - It remains extremely important for Douglas County residents to maintain social distancing and plan to stay home as much as possible while the community continues to address the COVID-19 outbreak, according to the Douglas County Health Department.. Douglas County Health announced Thursday preliminary test results for 13 new positive cases of COVID-19.

The cases include seven men and six women. They are three men and a woman in their 20s and 30s, a woman in her 50s, four men and women in their 60s and two men and two women over 70 years of age.

One case resulted from travel while seven cases are from direct contact, two cases resulted from community spread and three cases remain under investigation.

The Health Department reminds everyone to take precautions throughout the community to avoid a COVID-19 infection. You also should consider that many people who are sick have mild symptoms. According to the CDC, four out of five people who have become ill acquired the disease from someone who didn’t know they had it.

Please know the symptoms, which include a fever, cough, sore throat, or difficulty breathing. If you have COVID-19 symptoms or develop symptoms, contact your health care provider and tell them how you are feeling and any possible history of exposure, then call ahead before you go to the doctor’s office or an emergency room.

 

DOUGLAS COUNTY HEALTH OFFERS PLAN FOR SAFE DRIVE-IN RELIGIOUS SERVICES

(April 2, 2020) - The Douglas County Health Department is responding to requests for alternative types of religious services during the upcoming Holy Week.

“We know faith is an essential part of the American social fabric,” Health Director Dr. Adi Pour said. “Spiritual guidance can combine with social distancing and make for a memorable service.”

Dr. Pour has given consideration to the directed health measures that are in place, and has given the approval for houses of worship to have drive-in services on their property, with guidelines.

Here are those guidelines:

Individuals must stay in their vehicle, with the windows up. This keeps them in their own personal enclosed space.

Audio must be broadcast by available technology to maintain closed vehicles.

NO carpooling. Individuals residing in the same household may attend in the same vehicle. Family members that live in other homes MUST drive their own vehicle.

Leader(s) of the service are to stay in a stationed area, NOT mingling or weaving through the parked vehicles. Leader(s) must maintain a distance of six (6) feet. 

Offerings, if collected, CANNOT be by someone going vehicle to vehicle. It can be a drive through and drop. With anyone that is monitoring the location maintaining six (6) feet away from any vehicle that opens the window to deposit.

Communion, if practiced, CANNOT be passed from vehicle to vehicle or shared. Each vehicle must have their own items, for their own consumption. Each religious venue must establish how attendees can obtain supplies, in advance, for purposes of communion.

Building access is limited to no more than ten (10) individuals maintaining six (6) feet separation at any time for URGENT needs ONLY. (Bathroom usage)

Noise levels must be maintained as to not disturb surrounding residences/businesses.

Traffic must not impede the regular flow of public streets. Plans should be in place for managing possible congestion.

 

DOUGLAS COUNTY HEALTH CENTER CONFIRMS ADDITIONAL  COVID-19 CASES

(April 1, 2020) - Douglas County officials received confirmation that six long-term care residents and three staff members of the Douglas County Health Center have tested positive for COVID-19.

With two residents previously confirmed positive on Sunday, the total number of residents impacted is now eight. The three staff members who tested positive, include one who was presumed positive on Sunday. Five of the residents who tested positive are hospitalized and in stable condition. Three residents are isolated at the Health Center and being monitored by staff. One employee is hospitalized and in stable condition and the other two employees are in isolation at home.

“We are doing everything in our power to contain the spread,” said Erin Nelson, administrator of Douglas County Health Center. “Our long-term care residents are like family to us, and we are going above and beyond to continue our compassionate care during this difficult time.”

All employees at the Health Center are trained and required to wear N95 masks. They are also screened with temperature checks prior to the start of their shifts. Douglas County Health Center officials continue to adhere to CDC recommendations and are in constant communication with the infectious disease team at Nebraska Medicine for guidance specific to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Wednesday afternoon, experts with Nebraska Medicine’s Biocontainment Unit will tour the Health Center and offer additional suggestions and refinements to the Health Center’s policies.

“I have confidence in the leadership team at the Douglas County Health Center,” said Douglas County Commissioner Mary Ann Borgeson. “No one has ever experienced anything like COVID-19 in this lifetime, and our leadership team is working tirelessly and diligently to ensure the safety and health of all of our staff and residents.”

 

SOCIAL DISTANCING STRESSED AS COVID- 19 CASES RISE 

(April 1, 2020) Douglas County residents need to take social distancing seriously and plan on staying home as much as possible during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Social distancing is your best defense against COVID-19,” Douglas County Health Director Dr. Adi Pour said. “This is the proven public health method to stop the spread of this contagious disease.”

The Douglas County Health Department on Tuesday received preliminary results on 16 new COVID-19 cases. The cases include three women and a man in their 20s and 30s, a woman and two men in their 50s, a woman and three men in their 60s, two men and two women over 70 and another case under investigation for which the age was not yet available.

The Health Department reminds everyone to take precautions throughout the community to avoid a COVID-19 infection. You also should consider that many people who are sick have mild symptoms. According to the CDC, four out of five people who have become ill acquired the disease from someone who didn’t know they had it.

YARD WASTE COLLECTION LIMITS BEGIN APRIL 6

(April 1, 2020) - In planning for the potential impact of COVID-19, the City of Omaha and Waste Management have agreed to limit yard waste collection to four cans or sacks per household. This limit in yard waste collection will remain in effect until further notice.  The City would like citizens to begin these limits immediately however beginning April 6, Waste Management teams will only collect four containers of yard waste from each residential customer.

This limit allows Waste Management to focus on the essential service of garbage collection during the pandemic.  Any impact to the Waste Management workforce by COVID-19 will impact the service and performance of solid waste collection.  Waste Management will co-collect garbage and yard waste. 

Weekly household waste collection in Omaha will be limited to:

  • Up to 5 containers (trash cans or see through plastic bags) of garbage. Trash cans must be 32-gallons or less, and must not exceed 45 pounds. Plastic bags are limited to 40 pounds.
  • Up to 4 containers (trash cans or paper yard waste bags) of yardwaste. Trash cans must be marked with a YW, 32-gallons or less, and must not exceed 45 pounds. Paper yard waste sacks are limited to 40 pounds.  A bundle of brush is also acceptable in place of a trash can or paper yard waste bag. 
  • One or more City issued green recycling bins. Excess recyclables may be placed in paper grocery sacks or cardboard boxes that will be collected when placed out with the green recycling bin. Replacement recycling bins are not available at this time due to the shutdown of facilities where they are distributed. 

Due to the uncertainty of impacts, modifications to current collections may be necessary.  The City will provide updates as information becomes available. 

Citizens may sign up for e-mail notification of solid waste collection holidays or service delays at http://join.wasteline.org. The City’s solid waste website is www.wasteline.org and the Facebook presence is www.facebook.com/wasteline.

DOUGLAS COUNTY RECORDS EIGHT NEW COVID-19 CASES

(March 31, 2020)- The Douglas County Health Department emphasizes the need for everyone to practice social distancing and stay home as much as possible while new cases of COVID-19 continue to be found in the community.

On Tuesday,  The Douglas County Health Department received preliminary results on eight new cases of COVID19.

The new cases involve two women in their 20s and two in their 60s, plus a man in his 20s, one in his 50s and two men over 70 years old. Four of the cases are linked to known contacts in the county and two involve community transmission of the disease.

The Health Department’s Epidemiology Team continues to investigate other cases. The Health Department reminds everyone to take precautions throughout the community to avoid a COVID-19 infection. You also should consider that many people who are sick have mild symptoms. According to the CDC, four out of five people who have become ill acquired the disease from someone who didn’t know they had it, so there likely are many more people in the community who are infected with COVID-19 than have been reported. 

One person has died from COVID-19 in Douglas County; three in Nebraska.

 

COVID-19 CASE NUMBERS CONTINUE TO EXPAND WITH MORE TESTING 

(March 30, 2020) - Social distancing and staying home are increasingly important as expanded testing has continued to confirm more cases of COVID-19. The Douglas County Health Department on Monday received preliminary results on 16 new cases of COVID-19.

“The public has to take COVID-19 seriously,” said Douglas County Board of Health President Chris Rodgers. “We hope the public acts now to stop the spread of this disease, or we can and will take more strict measures to limit public activities. People need to stay home and avoid crowds.”

The new cases include nine men and women in their 20s and 30s, four women in their 40s and 50s, a man and a woman in their 60s and a man in his 70s. Four of the cases had direct contact with a known case, two cases are travel-related, and five involve community spread. The Health Department’s Epidemiology Team continues to investigate other cases. One person is hospitalized.

The Health Department reminds everyone to take precautions throughout the community to avoid a COVID-19 infection. You also should consider that many people who are sick have mild symptoms. According to the CDC, four out of five people who have become ill acquired the disease from someone who didn’t know they had it, so there likely are many more people in the community who are infected with COVID-19 than have been reported.

Please increase your awareness of the symptoms, which include a fever, cough, sore throat, or difficulty breathing. If you have COVID-19 symptoms or develop symptoms, contact your health care provider and tell them how you are feeling and any possible history of exposure, then call ahead before you go to the doctor’s office or an emergency room.

The Douglas County Health Department's information line remains open at (402) 444-3400 to anyone with general questions about COVID-19. The number is answered daily from 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. Nebraska DHHS has a COVID-19 information line open from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily at (402) 552-6645. Any calls outside those hours are handled by the United Way’s 2-1-1 Resource Hotline.

 

PARK OMAHA SUSPENDS PARKING METER FINES

(March 30, 2020) - Effective immediately, in response to the current pandemic, Park Omaha is suspending enforcement operations for the expiration of parking meters. Curbside pickup locations are being approved on an as-needed basis with no fees being charged for businesses requesting.

A cap of 1-3 spaces will be put in place per block face depending on requests received and the number of available spaces.

Our ambassadors will maintain enforcement operations for violations including time restrictions, handicapped parking, blocking of streets, sidewalks, and alleyways or fire hydrants and any other safety-related issues. If you normally park on-street overnight, please continue to utilize your normal space. Continue to be courteous to those around you who may need the space during the daytime hours to go about their daily lives.

We at Park Omaha will continue to monitor the situation for any other changes that may arise in response to this pandemic. We also wish for your continued health and safety.

 

DOUGLAS COUNTY HEALTH CENTER CONFIRMS TWO RESIDENTS TEST POSITIVE FOR COVID-19

(March 29, 2020) - On March 28, 2020, Douglas County officials received confirmation that two long term care residents of the Douglas County Health Center tested positive for COVID-19.

The long term care residents who tested positive are in isolation in their own private rooms and are being monitored by staff. They are both currently in stable condition. Families of all residents were immediately notified after confirmation of the positive tests.

Douglas County Health Center has worked closely with the infectious disease team at Nebraska Medicine for several years for guidance on the Health Center’s infection control program. For the past 30 days, the Health Center has also been utilizing and adhering to CDC recommendations related to COVID-19. On March 10, 2020, all visitors, volunteers, and vendors were restricted from entering the Douglas County Health Center. All approved staff are screened upon entrance. Staff members have been wearing face masks throughout the building since March 20th.

The Health Center’s emergency preparedness team has been working tirelessly to ensure education and training has been completed by all direct care staff. All department operations have been changed to accommodate CDC recommendations as well.

“Protecting the health and well-being of our residents and employees remains our top priority,” said Erin Nelson, administrator at Douglas County Health Center. “Our team continues to be on high alert and will take every precaution possible. On behalf of Douglas County, we can assure the community we are going above and beyond to continue to provide compassionate care to our long term care residents.”

Douglas County Health Center staff will continue to utilize and consult with community partners, the Douglas County Health Department, local governing bodies, and elected officials.

“Our team will ensure that we are providing our residents, families, and staff the most up-to-date information,” Nelson said.

About Douglas County Health Center
Douglas County Health Center, located at 4102 Woolworth Ave. in Omaha, has proudly been serving the community for more than 125 years. Douglas County Health Center building is home to 235 long term care residents, the Community Mental Health Center, and the Douglas County Primary Health Care Clinic.

 

COVID-19 CASE NUMBERS INCREASE WITH EXPANDED TESTING

(March 29, 2020) - Nine new cases of COVID-19 were reported by the Douglas County Health Department (DCHD) on Sunday as testing continues to ramp up. That makes 66 cases in the county.

“This is a major step toward measuring the extent of this major public health challenge,” Douglas County Health Director Dr. Adi Pour said. “The other will be for the community to embrace social distancing. We need people to stay at home as much as possible.”

These latest cases involve 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. The Health Department’s Epidemiology Team continues to investigate other cases. One person is hospitalized.

The Health Department reminds everyone to take precautions throughout the community to avoid a COVID-19 infection. You also should consider that many people who are sick have mild symptoms.

According to the CDC, four out of five people who have become ill acquired the disease from someone who didn’t know they had it, so there likely are many more people in the community who are infected with COVID-19 than have been reported. Please increase your awareness of the symptoms, which include a fever, cough, sore throat, or difficulty breathing. If you have COVID-19 symptoms or develop symptoms, contact your health care provider and tell them how you are feeling and any possible history of exposure, then call ahead before you go to the doctor’s office or an emergency room.

 

STATE EXPANDS RESTRICTIONS TO CENTRAL NEBRASKA

(March 28, 2020) Governor Pete Ricketts announced that the state’s third COVID-19 related Directed Health Measure (DHM) includes Butler, Hall, Hamilton, Merrick, Polk, Seward, and York counties, which will be in effect until May 6th unless renewed.

The first DHM, issued on March 18th, applies to Cass, Douglas, and Sarpy counties and is in effect until at least April 30thThe second DHM, issued on March 25th, applies to Dodge, Lancaster, Saunders, and Washington counties and is in effect until at least May 6th.

The DHM imposes an enforceable limit on public gatherings.  Among other steps, the DHM requires restaurants and bars in these areas to close their dining areas immediately and move to takeout service, delivery, and/or curbside service only until further notice.  Additionally, schools in these areas are directed to operate without students in their buildings.  This restriction does not apply to school staff working in school buildings.  It also does not apply to daycares that may be operated at a school per the Governor’s executive order regarding childcare, which you can access by clicking here.

Counties other than those noted above remain under the guidance issued March 18th by the Governor’s Office.  If further community transmission cases of COVID-19 occur in other regions of the state, the Governor will announce DHMs covering the additional regions.

In addition to the DHMs issued by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, Douglas County Public Health Director Dr. Adi M. Pour has issued an order covering Douglas County from March 18, 2020, through April 30, 2020.  Full details of the order can be found on the Douglas County Health Department website (douglascountyhealth.com).  

 

UNDERSTANDING THE STATE’S DIRECTED HEALTH MEASURE

Who does the Directed Health Measure apply to?

It applies to places such as theaters, churches, houses of worship, gyms, social clubs, salons, and social gatherings, including weddings, funerals, concerts, and athletic events.  This is not an exhaustive list but illustrates the types of locations the DHM applies to.

Do I need to shut down my bar or restaurant?

At bars and restaurants, it applies to patrons, not to your workforce.  Restaurants and bars are encouraged to ask their patrons if they can prepare their orders for takeout upon arrival. Restaurants will play a key part in feeding people throughout the pandemic.

Do I need to shut down my daycare?

No.  DHHS has issued new guidance that daycares need to follow.  You can find it by clicking here.

Do I need to shut down my office?

No.  The Directed Health Measure does not apply to places such as office buildings, grocery stores, pharmacies, hospitals, nursing homes, correctional facilities, courthouses, courtrooms, banks, car dealerships, auto repair shops, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, small shops, golf courses, big box stores, gas stations, convenience stores, shopping malls, manufacturing facilities, packing facilities, construction jobs, and other traditional office settings.  This is not an exhaustive list but illustrates the types of locations the DHM does not apply to.

Furthermore, we do not expect these facilities to be impacted by additional limits at this time.

Do I need to cancel a wedding or a funeral?

Weddings and funerals are also subject to the 10-person limit.  Event planners and facilities are encouraged to be flexible with people who are rearranging their plans.

 

DOUGLAS COUNTY CASE REPORT:  47

(March 27, 2020) - Three new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Douglas County, according to preliminary data from the Douglas County Health Department.  This brings the total number of cases in Douglas County to 47. These latest cases involve two women in their 30s and a man in his 50s who passed away.

The Health Department’s Epidemiology Team has determined both women had contact with a known COVID-19 case.

The Health Department says everyone should take precautions throughout the community to avoid a COVID-19 infection, not just in locations that have been listed as potential exposure sites. You also should bear in mind that many people who are sick have mild symptoms. According to the CDC,
four out of five people who have become ill acquired the disease from someone who didn’t know they had it, so there likely are many more people in the community who are infected with COVID-19 than have been reported.

 

DOUGLAS COUNTY REPORTS FIRST COVID-19 RELATED DEATH

(March 27, 2020) - A man in his 50s who also suffered from serious underlying health conditions has become the first COVID-19 death in Douglas County, according to the Douglas County Health Department.

He had contact with a known COVID-19 case out of state and has been self-quarantined since March 11 at home. He is thought to be the first COVID-19 death in Nebraska.

“The family of this individual has our most sincere sympathies,” Health Director Dr. Adi Pour said. “This new disease has been in our community for only a short while, but those with co-morbidities are at a greater risk of complications.” 

 

NEWS CONFERENCE THURSDAY MARCH 26, 2020

“We need every business, large and small and every citizen to help us with this, we need everyone to take responsibility,” said Mayor Stothert.

“I am begging the community to adhere to the measures we have in place”, said Dr. Adi Pour.

 

DOUGLAS COUNTY HEALTH DIRECTOR REPORT:


Thursday, March 26 - 44 positive cases in Douglas County, 9 are considered “community spread”.  Nine people are being treated in the hospital; Nine are considered "community spread".

267 people in Douglas County are being monitored for symptoms.
NOTE: this number dropped to 89 on Friday, March 27

Persons being monitored by the health department must check and report their temperature and other symptoms daily

Dr. Adi Pour, “We have learned a lot from China”.

1-swift, early action is necessary

2-need for broad testing-we are not there yet, but getting closer

3-close contact investigations provide important information to identify risk

4-community cooperation and adherence to steps to reduce exposure

 

CITY OF OMAHA REPORT

Mayor Jean Stothert reported on the available hospital resources in Omaha.

ICU BEDS
191 total
98   available

MEDICAL/SURGICAL BEDS
846 total
472 available

VENTILATORS
231 total
175 available

(Source: Metro Healthcare Coalition.  March 25, 2020)

 

DRIVE-THRU TESTING

All organizations planning to offer drive-thru health screenings and/or COVID-19 testing will be required to:

  • Apply for and receive a temporary use permit from the City of Omaha Planning Department
  • Must have a traffic plan approved by the Omaha Police Department
  • Screening must be by appointment only
  • Other requirements specific to individual applicants

“I think we will see more and more of these screenings, and that’s good. We want people to know what they’re getting when they get there.” Said Mayor Stothert.

A permit has been issued to Banyon Medical Systems for a drive-thru at 86th and Center. The permit will be good March 28 – April 3 from 9 am to 4 pm daily

 

CURFEW?

Mayor Jean Stothert has authority under The Municipal City Code to order a curfew. A curfew is not being discussed at this time.

“Every decision is made in collaboration with the state, county, UNMC, infectious disease, and epidemiology experts, we all agree it is unnecessary to close all retail,” said Mayor Stothert. “Right now, the restrictions we have in place that we agree on together, we don’t think more is necessary.  If things change, we can change immediately.”

 

OMAHA POLICE AND FIRE

One Omaha Police officer and one Omaha firefighter have tested positive for COVID-19,

Both recently returned from out-of-state travel, they have not returned to duty.

Officers have made hundreds of compliance checks at businesses under public health orders to close or restrict the number of people. No citations have been issued.

 

OMAHA PARKS, PUBLIC PLAYGROUNDS, AND GOLF COURSES

Beginning  Friday, March 27, golfers can use carts at City of Omaha golf courses, one golfer per cart. Carts will be washed daily.  We recommend all riders sanitize all touchpoints prior to use

Carts are available on a first-come, first-serve basis, cart reservations will not be accepted

No more than 10 people (including staff) will be allowed in the clubhouse at a time

Bunker rakes and ball washers have been removed from the courses

Cups are set above the putting surface, it the ball touches the cup, it is considered “holed”

Pin flags should not be removed or handled

All of the City of Omaha community centers are closed

Do not use playgrounds, benches or other outdoor equipment

Water at parks will not be turned on

Restrooms are closed, portapotties are being removed.

City of Omaha Parks and trails remain open, users must follow CDC guidelines:

  • Do not use trails or visit parks if you have COVID-19 symptoms
  • Follow personal hygiene guidance prior to and after visiting parks and trails

 

DOUGLAS COUNTY REPORT: CORRECTIONS
(Director Mike Meyers)  

Developed an emergency COVID-19 pandemic plan which includes several phases of emergency staffing plans

Educational campaigns to educate our staff and inmates

First agency nationally to challenge our remote visitation vendor to increase capacity and to offer lower costs for families in anticipation of suspending on-site video visitation

Ordered significant quantities of cleaning and sanitizing supplies and Personal Protective Equipment

Implemented screening and temperature checks for all new bookings and immediately isolated any individuals who present with concern

Immediately closed access to the facility to all volunteers and contracted service providers when first Douglas County case was announced

Converted our work release and reentry assistance programs program to home-based GPS monitoring

Converted  24/7 Sobriety program to a home-based program using remote alcohol testing and remote drug testing technology

Modified many internal operations to minimize the chance of cross-contamination from one housing unit to another

Shut down all on-site video visitation for members of the public

Developed alternative methods of attorneys and other professionals to carry out private meetings with inmates

One week ago, we escalated the separation of new bookings to include all new bookings for a 14-day observation period

Yesterday, (3/25) we began temperature checks for all staff upon entering the jail

Developing the limited capacity to complete on-site collections of specimens which will be then sent to Nebraska Medicine for testing

We are working with the courts to implement the capability of conducting certain court proceedings in a virtual environment.

Despite rumors to the contrary we have not had or currently have any known COVID-19 cases among our inmates or staff members.

If you want to serve your community by joining our team, we are currently hiring correctional officers

 

DOUGLAS COUNTY ADDS COVID-19 CASES 

(March 26, 2020) - Four new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Douglas County, according to preliminary data from the Douglas County Health Department 
This brings the total number of cases in Douglas County to 44.

These latest cases involve a woman in her 30s and a man in his 40s plus two men in their 50s. The Health Department’s Epidemiology Team is continuing its investigations into these latest cases.

The Health Department says everyone should take precautions throughout the community to avoid a COVID-19 infection, not just in locations that have been listed as potential exposure sites. You also should bear in mind that many people who are sick have mild symptoms. According to the CDC, four out of five people who have become ill acquired the disease from someone who didn’t know they had it, so there likely are many more people in the community who are infected with COVID-19 than have been reported.

Please increase your awareness of the symptoms, which include a fever, cough, sore throat, or difficulty breathing. If you have COVID-19 symptoms or develop symptoms, contact your health care provider and tell them how you are feeling and any possible history of exposure, then call ahead before you go to the doctor’s office or an emergency room.

 

METRO TRANSIT ANNOUNCES TEMPORARY SERVICE CHANGES 

(March 26, 2020) - Beginning Monday, March 30th, Metro will temporarily reduce weekday service due to a decline in ridership as the community continues to respond to COVID-19. Most routes will operate a Saturday schedule on weekdays with no changes to weekend service at this time.

“Our riders are taking proper precaution during this pandemic,” said Metro’s Executive Director Curt Simon. “They’re keeping distance and only taking essential trips, and we are seeing a proportionate drop in ridership. By modifying our bus schedules in this way, we can maintain access to essential services for our current riders and keep our staff at work.”

This change will not further impact express routes, which were reduced on Tuesday, March 24th. All changes will be reflected in Metro’s real-time bus tracker, MyRide OMA. The temporary service change is part of Metro’s ongoing response to COVID-19, including:

  • Offering free fares and encouraging rear door boarding
  • Closing Metro’s lobby and front desk to the public, except by appointment
  • Updating Metro’s lost and found policy to retain only essential items
  • Enhancing the cleaning program for vehicles and Metro facilities
  • Continuing to work with the Douglas County Health Department to monitor COVID-19

To help limit the spread of COVID-19, Metro is discouraging all non-essential travel on bus and MOBY services. Riders should maintain as much distance as possible between other riders and the operator.

For new bus schedules, please visit Metro’s website. For updates on Metro’s response to COVID-19, please visit bitly/MetroTransit-COVID-19.

 

DOUGLAS COUNTY COVID-19 CASES REACHES 40

(March 25, 2020) - Two new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Douglas County, according to preliminary data from the Douglas County Health Department. This brings the total number of cases in Douglas County to 40.

These latest cases involve a woman in her 30s and a woman in her 40s.

The investigation by the Health Department’s Epidemiology Team is ongoing. The Health Department is advising everyone to take precautions throughout the community to avoid a COVID-19 infection, not just in locations previously listed as having the potential for exposure.

It also is important to consider that many people who are sick have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. The CDC has said that four out of five people who have become ill acquired the disease from someone who didn’t know they had it. That means there are likely many more people in the community who are infected with COVID-19 than have been reported.

Please increase your awareness of COVID-19 symptoms, which include a fever, cough, sore throat, or difficulty breathing. Some people have experienced a loss of their sense of taste or smell.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms or develop symptoms, contact your health care provider and tell them how you are feeling and any possible history of exposure. We ask that you call ahead before you go to the doctor’s office or an emergency room. The Douglas County Health Department's information line remains open to anyone with general questions about COVID-19. That number, (402) 444-3400, is answered seven days a week from 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Nebraska DHHS has a COVID-19 information line open from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily at (402) 552-6645. Any person who has questions outside those hours is asked to call the United Way’s 2-1-1 Resource Hotline.

 

CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL & MEDICAL CENTER REPORTS POSITIVE COVID-19 TEST
(News Release-Children's Hospital & Medical Center) 

(March 25, 2020) - A provider who worked at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center over the weekend has received a positive test for COVID-19. The provider was working in Children’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and had contact with 10 patients. The families of patients and staff members who came in contact with this person have been contacted and advised on the proper precautions they should take.

The provider developed symptoms after working at the hospital this past weekend and was immediately tested. He/she is now isolating at home.

Children’s hospital continues to adhere to strict quality, safety and infection prevention protocols to ensure the safety of its patients, families, staff, and community.

Meanwhile, the hospital has taken many proactive, preventative measures to specifically reduce the spread of COVID-19, including increased visitor restrictions at all facilities; detailed screening processes before entering facilities; canceling and rescheduling non-urgent procedures; making modifications to outpatient specialty clinic visits (e.g. moving appointments, when appropriate, to virtual visits); suspending non-urgent well-check visits at primary care offices; consolidating Urgent Care services; and more. Children’s hospital is in close, daily collaboration with federal, state and local health agencies, as well as health care partners statewide and across the country. Please visit ChildrensOmaha.org/COVID for details on Children’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and updates for patient families.

 

NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE APPROVES EMERGENCY FUNDING BILL  
(News Release from Gov. Pete Ricketts)

(March 25, 2020) Governor Pete Ricketts signed LB 1198, a bill that provides emergency funding to help the State of Nebraska combat coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19). 

“I am grateful to State Senators for coming together to approve the emergency funding,” said Gov. Ricketts.  “Nebraskans across the state have united in the battle against this virus.  From Local Health Departments to frontline healthcare workers to volunteer organizations, winning the war will require a team effort from everyone.  I also urge each and every Nebraskan to take direct action to support their neighbors and local businesses as we confront this public health emergency together.”

“I appreciate Governor Ricketts' leadership in seeking the support necessary for our state to address COVID-19,” said Ted Carter, president of the University of Nebraska system.  “Our world-leading health care professionals at UNMC and across the state are working around the clock to keep Nebraskans safe, and the additional funding will significantly aid their efforts.  I thank members of the Legislature for moving quickly to make this critical investment in the health and safety of the people of Nebraska.”

“We at UNMC are very appreciative of Gov. Ricketts and to our state lawmakers for this emergency funding,” said UNMC Chancellor Dr. Jeffrey P. Gold.  “It goes without saying it will be put to the best possible use.  Increased testing helps Nebraska get a better picture of the spread of this disease to improve our preparedness and response—including whether individual health care workers are to stay at home or are safe to return to the frontlines. These funds will also help our state coordinate response and reuse precious personal protective equipment, thanks to a UNMC research innovation. This is why we are here.  The university academic health center is proud to stand with the Governor and Legislature in this historic fight.”

In addition to approving emergency funding, Gov. Ricketts issued an executive order to prevent evictions of Nebraskans significantly impacted by COVID-19.  The order prevents the eviction of renters unable to pay rent due on or after March 13th because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Governor indicated that the relief is intended for those who have become ill, lost income due to job loss or wage reductions, or missed work to care for a loved one (e.g., a child who cannot attend a school or a sick family member) due to the pandemic.  At the same time, he called on tenants to work to fulfill their contractual obligations.  The executive order does not cancel any rent payments; it simply defers a landlord’s right to a trial in an eviction action—for unpaid rent—until May 31, 2020.  Full text of the executive order suspending evictions can be found by clicking here.

 

ABOUT THE EMERGENCY FUNDING PACKAGE

  • Assistance for Nebraska Communities:  The largest portion of emergency funds will go towards purchasing much-need personal protective equipment (PPE) to help Nebraska communities respond to COVID-19.  These funds will also enable Local Public Health Departments (LHDs) to ramp up staffing and call center operations and to make essential IT expenditures—like laptops and servers.
  • State Public Health Division:  From epidemiologists who advise LHDs to robust public information campaigns, the State’s Public Health team has been overseeing the statewide response.  Emergency funding will help expand staffing to augment their team and will give them resources to carry out vital tasks like COVID-19 testing and contact tracing.
  • State Agency Overtime:  This part of the package will cover costs for overtime and additional staff to maintain healthcare coverage needs at veterans’ homes and state care facilities.  These funds are calculated to cover a 50% spike in staffing needs to prepare for the possibility that some teammates may be temporarily unable to provide care due to quarantine requirements.
  • University of Nebraska Medical Center: Additional funding will pay for equipment and systems at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC).  Some of the funds will go toward the cost of the reagents, lab personnel, and equipment needed to expand COVID-19 testing. 
  • Additional Flexibility:  The Legislature also appropriated $25 million in flexibility for the Governor’s Emergency Fund to ensure the State has the resources it needs as the pandemic unfolds.

 

38 COVID-19 CASES NOW REPORTED IN DOUGLAS COUNTY
(News Release from Douglas County Health Department)

(March 24, 2020) - Four new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Douglas County, according to preliminary data from the Douglas County Health Department.

The Health Department’s Epidemiology Team is continuing to investigate these latest cases, which bring the total in Douglas County to 38. These individuals include a woman in her 30s and three men ranging in age from their 40s to their 70s. One case has been identified as the result of community spread and one person is hospitalized.

The Health Department is advising that precautions to avoid a COVID-19 infection need to be taken throughout the community, not just in locations previously listed as having the potential for exposure. It also is important to consider that many people who are sick have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. The CDC has said that four out of five people who have become ill acquired the disease from someone who didn’t know they had it. That means there are likely many more people in the community who are infected with COVID-19 than have been reported.

Please increase your awareness of COVID-19 symptoms, which include a fever, cough, sore throat, or difficulty breathing. Some people have experienced a loss of their sense of taste or smell. If you have COVID-19 symptoms or develop symptoms, contact your health care provider and tell them how you are feeling and any possible history of exposure. We ask that you call ahead before you go to the doctor’s office or an emergency room.

The Douglas County Health Department’s information line remains open to anyone with general questions about COVID-19. That number, (402) 444-3400, is answered seven days a week from 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. Nebraska DHHS has a COVID-19 information line open from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily at (402) 552-6645.

Anyone who has questions outside those hours is asked to call the United Way’s 2-1-1 Resource Hotline.

 

DOUGLAS COUNTY HEALTH DIRECTOR UPDATES RULES FOR SALONS
(News Release from Douglas County Health Department)

(March 24, 2020) - The Douglas County Health Department wants to clarify the recent updated Directed Health Measures for Douglas County and how that order relates to beauty salons, nail salons, tattoo parlors, massage parlors, and other businesses in the beauty service industry.

The order, issued on Friday, March 20, specifically prohibits gatherings of more than ten people through April 30. There are exceptions that exclude a facility’s staff from the county and buildings that are sub-divided by walls.

However, another section of the order is particularly relevant to the beauty service industry.

Section 2 of the order reads: “It is further ordered that even for gatherings below this size if a minimum social distance of six feet between attendees cannot be maintained in the venue or a subdivision thereof, the gathering is prohibited.”

Given the nature of this industry, it is not possible for most needed services to be performed, and because of that, these operations should cease.

 

COUNTY BOARD CHAIRMAN AND MAYOR ASK LANDLORDS TO SUSPEND TENANT EVICTIONS
(News Release from Mayor Jean Stothert)

(March 24, 2020) -  Mayor Jean Stothert and Douglas County Board of Commissioners Chairman Clare Duda have asked landlords to waive or suspend evictions if a tenant is currently not able to pay rent due to financial hardship caused by COVID-19.

Mayor Stothert and Chairman Duda sent a letter Tuesday to approximately 3,000 landlords and property owners registered with the City of Omaha Planning Department, as well as the Metropolitan Omaha Property Owners Association and the Nebraska Apartment Association.

While the City of Omaha and Douglas County do not have authority under state statute to require a moratorium on evictions, Mayor Stothert and Chairman Duda have asked landlords to consider financial hardship “until the pandemic subsides and emergency health measures have been lifted”.

“The consequences of COVID-19 will be far-reaching,” said Mayor Stothert. “We are concerned about economic hardships for many.”

“Commissioner Rodgers has helped me realize this is a public health issue,” said Chairman Duda.  “I have been a landlord most of my life so I really do understand this issue.  Everyone is doing what we can during this time and here is an opportunity for landlords to help.”

The letter to landlords and property owners applies only to evictions. Mayor Stothert encourages tenants to be responsible and pay the monthly rent on time unless they are unable due to COVID-19.

 

DOUGLAS COUNTY SHERIFF MODIFIES OPERATIONS
(News Release from Douglas County Sheriff)

(March 24, 2020) - Out of the abundance of caution for the community and the employees of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO), the DCSO has taken the below-listed actions. The actions taken will ensure that the DCSO can perform our essential law enforcement functions to the citizens of Douglas County while at the same time ensure we aren’t contributing to the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). 

 

  • Main Office located at 3601 N. 156th Street
  • Access to the main office is restricted
  • No public fingerprinting services until further notice
  • Applications for handgun purchase permits, along with typed instructions, can be picked up in the lobby vestibule and mailed back along with $5.00 payment – None will be done in person
  • Ride-along and facility tours are canceled until further notice
  • Sex Offender registry is still taking place as scheduled
  • Citizens needing to retrieve property from the DCSO Property & Evidence Division must call 444-6824 to make an appointment

 

  • Douglas County Courthouse
  • The DCSO is urging the public to limit visits to the Douglas County Courthouse and Omaha Douglas Civic Center to official and necessary business only

 

  • Forensic Services Bureau located at 15345 West Maple Road
  • No job shadowing or lab tours until further notice

 

  • Title Inspection Division located at 8338 Chicago Street
  • Motorists will be required to stay in their vehicles during inspection services
  • Motorists should only roll their vehicle windows down far enough to pass paperwork and payment to the vehicle inspectors
  • Credit and debit cards will not be taken until further notice – cash and checks only

 

  • Records and Civil Process Divisions located at 1616 Leavenworth Street
  • Applications for handgun purchase permits, along with typed instructions, can be picked up in the lobby vestibule and mailed back along with $5.00 payment – None will be done in person

 

  • Uniform Patrol Services and 911 Calls for Service
  • Effective March 25, 2020, at 6:00 am the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office will temporarily suspend sending a deputy to every call for service. If a citizen calls 911 for a non-emergency, the 911 dispatcher will re-route the call to the new DCSO Telephone Report Line for service
  • During certain calls for service, the public may be asked to meet the deputy outside of the residence. In addition, the calling party may be asked to wear a surgical mask during the interaction with the deputy

We really appreciate our community working closely with us as we deal with the Coronavirus pandemic. By working together, and following the instructions of our public health officials, we will successfully get through this public health emergency.  Thank you for your cooperation. 

 

FREE BUS SERVICE BEGINS WEDNESDAY MARCH 25

(March 24, 2020) - Metro is encouraging riders to use rear bus doors and offering free fares for bus and paratransit services in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19. The policy goes into effect Wednesday, March 25th and will continue until further notice.

“We are all facing an unprecedented challenge,” said Metro’s Executive Director Curt Simon. “Our goal is to protect front-line staff and support our riders. By boarding through the back door and eliminating fare box interaction, we can create social distance, provide safe access for essential workers, and ease financial burdens for riders.”

The move is part of an ongoing effort to help limit the spread of COVID-19, including:

  • Closing Metro’s lobby and front desk to the public, except by appointment
  • Updating Metro’s lost and found policy to retain only essential items
  • Enhancing the cleaning program for vehicles and Metro facilities
  • Continuing to work with the Douglas County Health Department to monitor COVID-19

Riders should enter and exit through the back door whenever possible. Riders with mobility needs will be able to use the front door.

“We are asking riders to help slow the spread of COVID-19 by riding the bus for essential trips only and not riding when sick,” Simon said.

To follow updates on Metro’s response to COVID-19, visit bitly/MetroTransit-COVID-19.

 

 ATTORNEY GENERAL WARNS OF SCAMS

(March 24, 2020) -Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson today issued guidance and a warning to Nebraskans to avoid potential scams related to coronavirus (COVID-19). Unfortunately, scammers often exploit difficult times by preying on the consumer’s fear and sense of urgency. Attorney General Peterson reminds Nebraskans that he and his office are diligently monitoring and investigating consumer complaints related to COVID-19.

 To avoid falling victim to a scam, keep in mind the following tips:

  • Disregard solicitations offering “miracle” drugs or remedies to cure or prevent coronavirus (COVID-19). Currently, there are no vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, lozenges or other prescription or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure coronavirus according to the Federal Food and Drug Administration 
  • Ignore calls or texts requesting your personal information. Our office has received reports of Nebraskans receiving calls and texts asking for personal information under the guises it is needed to “release funds” or “verify a relief check” from the government.
  • Research before donating.  Donations to legitimate charitable entities are needed now more than ever. Don’t let scammers prey on your generosity. Before you give, research the organization by visiting its website and confirming its charitable registration status with the IRS. Keep in mind, many sham charities use names that appear similar to legitimate organizations.

Attorney General Peterson’s consumer-focused website offers additional tips for protecting yourself against scams, researching charities, and safeguarding your personal information.

Consumers may file a consumer complaint through the attorney general’s website at www.protectthegoodlife.nebraska.gov or send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

STATE INCOME TAX DEADLINE EXTENDED

(March 23, 2020) - Governor Pete Ricketts announced Monday that Nebraskans will have until July 15, 2020, to pay state income taxes.  For Nebraskans impacted by COVID-19, this change will give them additional flexibility.  Nebraskans who are not impacted by the virus should consider filing by the traditional April 15th date.

The Internal Revenue Service recently granted federal income tax relief to taxpayers.  The IRS has automatically extended the tax filing and payment deadlines for federal income taxes from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020.   

The State of Nebraska is providing this same income tax relief to state income taxpayers.  The tax filing deadline will automatically be extended to July 15, 2020, for state income tax payments and estimated payments that were originally due on April 15, 2020.   Nebraskans who are able to pay earlier are encouraged to do so to help the State manage its cash flow.

For Nebraskans affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in ways that impair their ability to comply with their state tax obligations for taxes administered by the Nebraska Department of Revenue, the Tax Commissioner may grant penalty or interest relief depending on individual circumstances.  To request relief, please complete and mail a Request for Abatement of Penalty, Form 21, or Request for Abatement of Interest, Form 21A, with an explanation of how you were impacted.

 

OMAHA POLICE DEPARTMENT ADJUSTS HOURS AND SERVICES AT HEADQUARTERS AND PRECINCTS
(News Release from the Omaha Police Department)

 ***CORRECTION FROM OPD: We will continue to register firearms at the Front Desk at Headquarters***

(March 23, 2020) - The Omaha Police Department is taking additional precautions to keep our citizens and officers safe as our community deals with the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Starting Tuesday, March 24, 2020, all of the Front Desks at our precincts will be closed.  The Front Desk at Central Police Headquarters, 505 South 15th Street, will remain open daily but the hours and services available will change. The hours will be from 8 am-4 pm. The following services will not be available: fingerprinting and firearms registrations. If you need a file a report for a non-emergency incident please call 402-444-4877.

Copies of police reports can be requested in writing to 505 South  15th Street, Attention: Records Manager, Omaha, Nebraska, 68102 or purchased in person at Central Police Headquarters daily from 8 am to 4 pm. If a report is requested in writing, please include the report number and a $5 check or money order made out to the Omaha Police Department. Accident Reports can be requested on-line and paid with a Visa, MasterCard or E-Check. There is a convenience fee.

The department has created a call center that will be located at the West Precinct, 20924 Cumberland Drive and will start taking calls tomorrow at 10 am. Citizens are encouraged to call 402-444-4877 to make any non-emergency reports. If a citizen calls 911 for a non-emergency, the 911 dispatcher will re-route the call to the call center which will handle most priority 3, 4 and 5 calls. Examples of these lower priority calls range from an assault report where the suspect is not present, auto theft report and theft from vehicle report. The call center will be staffed with sworn and non-sworn personnel.

We appreciate the community working with us as we deal with the Coronavirus pandemic. We like many other organizations are taking necessary steps to protect our employees and the community. We will get through this together.

 

NEWS CONFERENCE SUNDAY MARCH 22

DOUGLAS COUNTY HEALTH DIRECTOR REPORT:

Sunday, March 22-35 positive cases in Douglas County, many are travel-related

“The more we test, the more we find, and that’s a good thing. I can tell you we should be prepared for more cases.” – Dr. Adi Pour, Douglas County Health Director

Dr. Pour said the spread of the virus is “all over”, everyone should be cautious wherever you go. Four of 5 people don’t know they have been exposed to a person who has COVID-19

The virus has a range of symptoms, not everyone will have a fever.

DOUGLAS COUNTY REPORT:

Sheriff’s Captain Wayne Hudson reported deputies have found 100% compliance with current closing orders and other restrictions.

Like Omaha Police, domestic violence calls are also up in Douglas County

Sheriff’s Office will open a telephone response unit this week for Priority 3, 4, and 5 calls.

Douglas County Commissioner asked landlords to consider their actions before evicting tenants.

 

DR. JEFFREY GOLD, CHANCELLOR - UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA MEDICAL CENTER:

“There is a reasonable chance we can handle this if we follow the non-pharmaceutical interventions. I cannot say often enough, 6-8 feet is important.”

Dr. Gold reported the health care organizations in the state, city, and county convene daily to share information.

“This will define what it means to be a Nebraskan within the next 7-10 days,” said Dr. Gold

The Biocontainment Unit has been expanded from 10 beds to 36, “a fraction of what we could do if needed, fortunately not necessary at this time”.

ON TESTING:

The state lab and the UNMC lab have the capacity to run 100-150 tests each day. Dr. Gold expects that number to increase this week.

“It is more important to maintain a safe distance from others than getting a test,” said Dr.Gold. “We don’t want to test the worried well, we must reserve the tests for people with specific exposure, those at high-risk and the elderly.”

Dr. Gold said Nebraska Medicine has seen a minimal increase in ICU admissions.

UNMC is testing an anti-viral drug for COVID-19. Dr. Gold said there is promising information.

 

CITY OF OMAHA REPORT

“Right here, right now, thank you to the people in Omaha for complying with the restrictions in place. Because of your help, we do not need the restrictions other cities and states are taking,” said Mayor Jean Stothert.

Mayor Stothert, Dr. Pour and Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer agreed there is very good compliance with the current public health orders.

“I’ve seen this community rise after numerous high profile incidents. I want to thank our business community.  OPD has not issued a single citation for non-compliance with the closing orders and restrictions, not a single one,” said Chief Schmaderer.

The Chief said 10-15 officers are self-quarantined, no officers have tested positive and OPD is working at full-strength.

Omaha Fire Chief Dan Olsen said a “handful” of firefighters are also self-quarantined but no one has tested positive for COVID-19.

Last week, OPD announced it would not send officers to non-injury property damage calls if the vehicles involved can be moved off the street:

“The Omaha Police Department is taking necessary precautions to keep our citizens and officers safe as our community deals with the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Effective immediately, police officers will not respond to movable property damage vehicle accidents. Drivers should exchange information. We are working on implementing further changes that will take place next week.”

On Tuesday, March 25, OPD will make another change in 9-1-1 call response to reduce the potential for officer exposure to the virus, routing Priority 3 and 4 calls to a call center for reporting.

“We will always respond to calls of life and safety,” said Chief Schmaderer.

Chief Schmaderer reported OPD is beginning to see an increase in domestic violence calls.

  

ADDITIONAL CASES REPORTED IN DOUGLAS COUNTY 
Increased Testing Finds New COVID-19 Cases in Douglas County 

(March 21, 2020)  Multiple new positive tests of the novel coronavirus have been located in Douglas County as testing for COVID-19 ramps up in the community.

Six additional cases, a mix of men and women, were confirmed Saturday, with three of them travel-related and three who are contacts of a positive case. Additional cases remain under investigation. The total number of confirmed cases in Douglas County is 34.

“We anticipated that increased testing would uncover more cases of COVID-19,” Health Director Dr. Adi Pour said. “That has proven to be the case. All are experiencing mild symptoms and are self-isolating while recovering at home.”     

Two travel-related cases - a man in his 30s and a man in his 60s - were confirmed as COVID-19 positive late Friday with the further investigation conducted Saturday, March 21.

The Health Department is advising that with the development of community spread in Douglas County, precautions to avoid becoming infected with COVID-19 need to be taken everywhere, not just in locations previously listed as having the potential for exposure.  However, DCHD also feels it is important to note that many people who are sick have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. The CDC reports that four out of five people who have become ill acquired the disease from someone who didn’t know they had it. That means there are likely many more people in the community who are infected with COVID-19 than have been reported.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms – a fever, cough, fatigue, and sore throat - or develop symptoms, contact your health care provider and tell them how you are feeling. Please notify them of any potential exposure to a confirmed case of the novel coronavirus. We ask that you call ahead before you go to the doctor’s office or an emergency room.

DCHD’s information line remains open to anyone with general questions about COVID-19. That number, (402) 444-3400, is answered seven days a week from 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. Nebraska DHHS has a COVID-19 information line open from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily at (402) 552-6645. Any person who has questions outside those hours is asked to call the United Way’s 2-1-1 Resource Hotline.

New guidance has been provided for people who have been asked to self-isolate at home due to symptoms of COVID-19 or confirmed diagnosis. You are asked to remain in isolation at least three days after your fever has ended without the use of fever-reducing medications and your symptoms have improved. It also must be seven days since your diagnosis.                

 

DOUGLAS COUNTY HEALTH DIRECTOR AMENDS ORDER TO CLOSE BARS AND RESTAURANTS AND LIMIT ATTENDANCE AT GATHERINGS
Full text of order signed by Dr. Adi Pour

(March 20, 2020, AMENDED)

WHEREAS, The Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19, also known as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, or "SARS-Cov-2") has dramatically impacted the citizens of Douglas County, Nebraska; and 

WHEREAS, Pursuant to Nebraska Revised Statute section 71-501 and Omaha Municipal Code, Article XII, section 12-23, the Douglas County Board of Health is authorized to promulgate rules and regulations concerning contagious, infectious, and malignant diseases in the county under its jurisdiction; and 

WHEREAS, Pursuant to Nebraska Revised Statute section 71-1631(7), the Douglas County Board of Health has promulgated such regulations concerning public health and the prevention of communicable diseases within its jurisdiction as approved by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services and amended through March 18, 2020; and 

WHEREAS, Pursuant to the Douglas County Rules and Regulations for the Prevention of Spread of Communicable Disease, Illness, or Poisoning, Section 4, the Director of the Douglas County Health Department ("the Director") has the authority to implement Directed Health Measures, including protocols or measures as identified as effective against public health threats by the United States Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ("the CDC"); and 

WHEREAS, Pursuant to the Omaha Municipal Code, Article XII, the Director has authority to issue such orders, regulations, and instructions as may, in her judgment, limit the threat of an epidemic or contagious disease; 

WHEREAS, On March 16, 2020, the CDC issued Interim Guidance for COVID-19, specifically warning against gatherings of more than ten (10) people for the next fifteen (15) days; 

WHEREAS, The Director makes the following findings: 

1. I have received information from the WHO, CDC and treating health care providers that the general public may have been exposed to a communicable disease.

 2. I find that Directed Health Measures exist to effectively prevent, limit or slow the spread of communicable disease.

3. I further find that the disease presents a risk of death to any person and that the exposure is wide-spread and poses a significant risk of harm to people in the general population; and that there is a particular subset of the population that is more vulnerable to the threat and thus at increased risk. 

4. In assessing the nature of the risk presented, I further find that the threat is from a novel infectious agent.

5. I do hereby further find that a delay in the imposition of Directed Health Measures and evaluation would significantly jeopardize the ability to prevent or limit the transmission of communicable disease and pose unacceptable risks to any person or persons 

WHEREAS,, The Director issued a Directed Health Measure Order on March 18 concerning COVID 19, 

WHEREAS, The Chief Medical Officer and Director of Public Health for the State of Nebraska, Gary Anthone, MD, issued a Directed Health Measure Order on March 19 concerning COVID-19, wherein that order expressly stated "this Order does not supersede the provisions of the March 18, 2020 Order issued by Douglas County Nebraska", 

WHEREAS, In order to bring the March 18th Order into closer compliance with the State's March 19th Order, the Director hereby amends the March 18th Directed Health Measure Order as follows

1. All public gatherings within the jurisdiction of the Douglas County Health Department with 

an expected presence of more than ten (10) patrons, customers or other invitees, excluding staff, taking place between March 18, 2020, and April 30, 2020, is hereby prohibited.

If the venue is subdivided into multiple spaces separated by physical walls or sufficient airspace, the limit per subdivision of space is 10. This Order includes, but is not limited to, the following spaces, schools, gymnasiums, salons, fitness centers, auditoriums, stadiums, arenas, large event conference rooms, meeting halls, theaters, libraries, or any other confined indoor or outdoor spaces. This Order also includes, but is not limited to, the following events, weddings, funerals, parades, fairs, festivals, concerts and other indoor and outdoor events

A gathering is defined as any event or convening that brings together more than ten (10) patrons, customers or other invitees, excluding staff

Liquor, beer, and wine sales are restricted to carry-out sales and delivery only, to the extent permitted by law. No onsite consumption is permitted. This includes bars, taverns, and private clubs, regardless of name or characterization. Food and beverage sales at restaurants, bars, taverns, private clubs, and any dine-in establishments are restricted to carry-out, drive-thru, and delivery only. This does not apply to and/or exempts food service in health care facilities. Lines for carry-out and drive-thrus in the above-referenced establishments must have an environment where patrons and staff maintain social distancing (a distance of six feet away from other persons) whenever possible

2. It is further ordered that even for gatherings below this size if a minimum social distance of six feet between attendees cannot be maintained in the venue or a subdivision thereof, the gathering is prohibited

3. This Order does not apply to courts of law, medical providers; public utilities; critical federalstate, county, and city operations, continuity of business operations; logistics/distribution centers; congregate living settings, shelters; public transportation; airport travel; necessary shopping at fuel stations, stores or malls; election offices; polling places on an election day; or to family residences housing ten or more people. However, these settings are instructed to observe all applicable state and federal guidelines for infection control

4. Daycare and childcare facilities must operate under the following mandatory conditions:

A Childcare must be carried out in stable groups of 10 or fewer children; "stable" means that the same 10 or fewer children are in the same group each day.

B. Children shall not change from one group to another.

C. If more than one group of children is cared for at one facility, each group shall be in a separate room. Groups shall not mix with each other.

D. Childcare providers shall remain solely with one group of children

 

5. This Order is issued as a result of the worldwide pandemic of COVID-19 disease, also known as "novel coronavirus," which has infected at least 214,000 individuals worldwide and is implicated in over 8,700 worldwide deaths. Douglas County has twenty-six (26) cases

6. This Order is issued based on evidence of increasing transmission of COVID-19 both within the Douglas County, Nebraska and worldwide, scientific evidence regarding the most effective approach to slow transmission of communicable diseases generally and COVID 19 specifically, as well as best practices as currently known and available to protect the public from the risk of spread of or exposure to COVID-19

7. This Order is intended to reduce the likelihood of exposure to COVID-19, thereby slowing the spread of COVID-19 in communities worldwide. As the presence of individuals increases, the difficulty and magnitude of tracking individuals who may have been exposed to a case rise exponentially, increasing the likelihood that such gatherings will impair efforts at mitigating the spread of the illness

8. To the extent necessary, the Director requests that the Sheriff and all Chiefs of Police in the 

County ensures compliance with and enforcement of this OrderPursuant to Nebraska Revised Statute sections 71-501 and 506 and Nebraska Administrative Code 173 sections 6-009 and 6-006, any person violating this order may be subject to a Class V Misdemeanor for each offense

This order takes effect when it has been disseminated to the mass media

This Order will remain in effect no longer than necessary to ensure that individuals or groups affected by COVID-19 no longer pose a public health threat

Failure to comply with this Order will result in legal action for enforcement by civil and/or criminal remedies

Upon request, the Douglas County Health Department (“Department") will schedule a hearing to be held as soon as reasonably possible under the circumstances. Unless requested otherwise, the hearing will be scheduled no sooner than three days after the request is received by the Department. The hearing will be conducted in accordance with the Department's rules of practice and procedure adopted pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act. 

The parties to the hearing will be limited to the Department and requesting party unless one or more additional persons have requested contested case hearings on substantially identical issues; the interests of the administrative economy require that the matters be consolidated, and no party would be prejudiced by consolidation, in which case notice of the consolidation will issue. 

A party may be represented by counsel at the party's own expense or may appear pro se if a natural person. 

Reasonable prior notice of the time and place for the hearing will be given. The hearing may be conducted in whole or in part by telephone. 

The purpose of the hearing is to determine if the factual bases for the Order exist and the reasonableness of the ordered measures. The Director may affirm, reverse or modify the Order by a written Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Order to be issued as soon as reasonably possible after the hearing.

You have the right to present evidence to the Director of the Douglas County Health Department or her designee to show that the Order should be modified or terminated. Please contact the Director's office at 402-444-7471 to make the arrangements. 

 

 

SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION APPROVES ASSISTANCE APPLICATIONS FOR NEBRASKA BUSINESSES
(News Release Gov. Pete Ricketts)

(March 20, 2020) - Governor Pete Ricketts welcomed the news that the Small Business Administration (SBA) has issued a statewide economic injury declaration for Nebraska.  The declaration qualifies small businesses throughout the state to apply for SBA disaster assistance loans.

“As Nebraska steps up its efforts to combat coronavirus, we’ve limited the size of public gatherings and asked people to stay home when possible,” said Gov. Ricketts.  “These temporary measures are vitally important to public health, but they present challenges for the day-to-day operations of many small businesses.  Nebraska is grateful to the SBA and Administrator Carranza for offering much-needed financial assistance to our hard-working store owners and entrepreneurs at this time.”

“The hard work and creativity of Nebraska’s small business owners enrich our communities and grows our state,” said Nebraska Department of Economic Development Director Tony Goins.  “SBA loans will give small businesses the needed financial resources to weather the current pandemic and will set them up to thrive throughout the rest of 2020.”

SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer low-interest rates and long-term repayment options.  Specific terms are determined on a case-by-case basis.

Small businesses and private nonprofit organizations of any size can apply for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan at disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.  Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

The Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) has teammates available to assist businesses with their questions.  Contact information for DED’s regional development team can be found on DED’s COVID-19 website at opportunity.nebraska.gov/nded-covid19.  The webpage also has information on SBA resources.

 

THREE NEW COVID-19 CASES CONFIRMED IN DOUGLAS COUNTY

(March 20, 2020) - Three travelers are the latest confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Douglas County.

The Douglas County Health Department reports these individuals recently returned from areas in the southeastern United States where COVID-19 is circulating.

They are two men in their 40s and a woman in her 30s. These three individuals traveled to different areas and the cases are not connected. All were tested earlier this week and confirmed March 18 or 19. None of them have been hospitalized.

Douglas County now has 26 confirmed cases of the disease.

New guidance has been provided for people who have been asked to self-isolate at home due to symptoms of COVID-19 or confirmed diagnosis. You are asked to remain in isolation at least three days after your fever has ended without the use of fever-reducing medications and your symptoms have improved. It also must be seven days since your diagnosis.

Community exposures may have occurred at the following times and locations: 

Nebraska Furniture Mart. 700 South 72nd Street, Sunday, March 15 from 2-5 p.m. 

Pearle Vision Center, 147th and West Maple, Monday, March 16 from 3:30 - 4:30 p.m.,

At Home Store, 130th and West Center, Monday, March 16 from 4:30 - 6:00 p.m.

The Health Department is advising that with the development of community spread in Douglas County, precautions to avoid becoming infected with COVID-19 need to be taken everywhere, not just in locations listed as having the potential for exposure.

However, DCHD also feels it is important to note that many people who are sick have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. The CDC reports that four out of five people who have become ill acquired the disease from someone who didn’t know they had it. That means there are likely many more people in the community who are infected with COVID-19 than have been reported. 

Please increase your awareness of COVID-19 symptoms, which include a fever, cough, sore throat, or difficulty breathing. If you have COVID-19 symptoms or develop symptoms, contact your health care provider and tell them how you are feeling. Please notify them of any potential exposure to a confirmed case of the novel coronavirus. We ask that you call ahead before you go to the doctor’s office or an emergency room. 

 

GOVERNOR ALLOWS TAKE-OUT LIQUOR SALES
(News Release-Governor Pete Ricketts)

(March 20, 2020) Governor Pete Ricketts issued an executive order Thursday to provide relief to restaurants and bars as they continue to serve Nebraskans during the coronavirus 2019 disease (COVID-19) pandemic.  In keeping with federal guidelines, the State of Nebraska has issued guidance that restaurants and bars are currently limited to 10 patrons as part of a nationwide social distancing effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.  

On March 19th, the State of Nebraska directed restaurants and bars in Cass, Douglas, Sarpy, and Washington counties to close their dining/seating areas and move to takeout, carry-out, or delivery only.  This action came after the Douglas County Public Health Department reported its second case of COVID-19 that officials could not trace to its origin (commonly known as a “community spread” case).

The Governor’s executive order will permit restaurants and bars statewide greater flexibility to serve Nebraskans during the current public health emergency.

  • Liquor Licensing – Establishments such as pizza parlors (Class A license holders) will be able to sell beer to customers on take-out or delivery orders.  Restaurants (Class I license holders) will be able to sell beer, wine, and spirits to customers placing take-out or delivery orders.
  • Sale of Alcohol – To encourage social distancing, restaurants and bars will be permitted to sell alcohol on the drive-thru or curbside orders without customers having to exit their motor vehicles.
  • Temporary Operating Permits – Temporary operating permits will be extended from 90 to 180 days.
  • Waiver of Excise Tax Penalties – Excise tax payees still has the duty to file and pay the excise tax according to the statute.  However, the executive order will waive penalties for late payments.
  • Payment of wine and spirit deliveries – Under normal circumstances, wine and spirit deliveries must be paid within 30 days.  The executive order will give restaurants and bars 90 days to pay for wine and spirit deliveries for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency.  The requirement that beer deliveries be paid upon delivery is not changed.

 

STATE OF NEBRASKA EXTENDS DEADLINES FOR VEHICLE REGISTRATIONS AND DRIVER LICENSES
(News Release-Governor Pete Ricketts)

(March 20, 2020) - Governor Pete Ricketts issued an executive order Thursday to increase flexibility in requirements for Nebraska residents relating to driver licensing and vehicle registration requirements.  Acknowledging the restrictions in place to limit the spread of COVID-19, the Governor is extending driver licenses and vehicle registrations expiring on or after March 1st.  The extension will remain in effect until 30 days after the order is lifted.

  • Driver Licenses or State IDs – The extension will apply to all driver licenses, state identification cards, permits, or other credential issued by the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles.  Customers will still be able to renew credentials online; however, the aim is to reduce the number of individuals requiring in-person assistance.  This step will assist with social distancing and reduce the need for people to travel to driver licensing offices.
  • Vehicle Titling & Registrations – Any vehicle title requirements, registrations, in-transit tags, or motor carrier temporary documents due to expire on or after March 1st will be extended until 30 days after this executive order is lifted.
  • IFTA requirements – Any Nebraska penalties or interest associated with the late filing of quarterly returns for members of the International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) will be waived.
  • Ignition Interlock Providers – Monthly inspection and reporting requirements under the ignition interlock program will be provided a two-week extension period for all existing interlock customers.  Additional extensions may be available, as determined on a case-by-case basis.

The Department of Motor Vehicles will continue to look at ways to assist our customers impacted by the restrictions put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

All Nebraska residents are encouraged to take advantage of the dozens of online services available at dmv.nebraska.gov.

 

 ALL JURY TRIALS IN DOUGLAS COUNTY SCHEDULED THROUGH MAY 1, 2020 POSTPONED

(March 19, 2020) - All jury trials in Douglas County (both County Court and District Court) scheduled through May 1, 2020, have been postponed. All jurors summoned for dates between March 23, 2020, and May 1, 2020, will not need to report for jury service. Any questions can be directed to the Douglas County Clerk of the District Court at 402-444-7018.

 

GOVERNOR RICKETTS ANNOUNCES NEW RESTRICTIONS AND SAFETY MEASURES IN EASTERN NEBRASKA  COUNTIES

(March 19, 2020) - Today, Governor Pete Ricketts announced the State’s first Directed Health Measure (DHM) for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).  The DHM imposes an enforceable limit on public gatherings.  The measure comes after the Douglas County Public Health Department confirmed its second case of community transmission of COVID-19.

The DHM applies to all communities in Educational Service Units (ESU) #3 and #19 (Cass, Douglas, Sarpy, and Washington counties).  It will be in effect until April 30, 2020.  Full text of the DHM can be found at https://www.dropbox.com/s/sk95elfp6bnefsv/DHM%203.19.2020.pdf?dl=0.

Among other steps, the DHM requires restaurants and bars in these areas to close their dining areas immediately and move to takeout service, delivery, and/or curbside service only until further notice.  Additionally, schools in these areas are directed to operate without students in their buildings.  This restriction does not apply to school staff working in school buildings.

Regions of Nebraska outside of ESUs #3 and #19 remain under the guidance issued on Monday by the Governor’s Office.  If a community transmission case of COVID-19 occurs in other regions of the state, the Governor will announce Directed Health Measures covering the additional regions.

In addition to the DHM issued by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, Douglas County Public Health Director Dr. Adi M. Pour has also issued an order covering Douglas County from March 18, 2020, through April 30, 2020. 

 

UNDERSTANDING THE STATE’S DIRECTED HEALTH MEASURE

 

Who does the Directed Health Measure apply to?

It applies to places such as theaters, churches, houses of worship, gyms, social clubs, salons, and social gatherings, including weddings, funerals, concerts, and athletic events.  This is not an exhaustive list but illustrates the types of locations the DHM applies to. 

 

Do I need to shut down my bar or restaurant?

At bars and restaurants, it applies to patrons, not to your workforce.  Restaurants and bars are encouraged to ask their patrons if they can prepare their orders for takeout upon arrival.  Restaurants will play a key part in feeding people throughout the pandemic.

Do I need to shut down my daycare?

No.  DHHS has issued new guidance that daycares need to follow.  You can find it by clicking here.

Do I need to shut down my office?

No.  The Directed Health Measure does not apply to places such as office buildings, grocery stores, pharmacies, hospitals, nursing homes, correctional facilities, courthouses, courtrooms, banks, car dealerships, auto repair shops, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, small shops, golf courses, big box stores, gas stations, convenience stores, shopping malls, manufacturing facilities, packing facilities, construction jobs, and other traditional office settings.  This is not an exhaustive list but illustrates the types of locations the DHM does not apply to.                                                                                                                             

Furthermore, we do not expect these facilities to be impacted by additional limits at this time.

Do I need to cancel a wedding or a funeral?

Weddings and funerals are also subject to the 10-person limit.  Event planners and facilities are encouraged to be flexible with people who are rearranging their plans.

 

 

ASSESSOR/REGISTER OF DEEDS INITIATES OPERATION CHANGES; SUSPENDS WALK-IN TRAFFIC

(March 18, 2020) - As a result of the increasing dangers posed by COVID-19, Diane Battiato, Douglas County Assessor/Register of Deeds, announced another round of changes today regarding her office’s policies and procedures —including that all walk-in traffic is suspended.   

Effective immediately, the Register of Deeds office no longer will accept documents for filing via walk-in.  Battiato said if an individual has a time-sensitive filing, he or she can make an appointment with the office to file the document(s).  The number to call is 402-444-7160.

Battiato also explained other changes.  For example, also effective immediately, ALL 24 Homestead Exemption Program help sites are closed.  Following a review of the current COVID-19 situation, Battiato said her office and Volunteers Serving Seniors (VAS) agreed that conducting the help sites would place volunteers, staff and senior citizens at considerable risk.   Battiato explained that they evaluated the possible effect of COVID-19 and concluded that the negative impact could be too great, especially for senior citizens.  VAS partners with the Assessor/Register of Deeds to provide the help sites, which offer application assistance to individuals who want to take advantage of the exemption program.

“We truly regret having to cancel all of the help sites; we understand how important the homestead exemption program is to property owners.  And we apologize for the inconvenience,” Battiato said.

Battiato added that the office still is processing homestead applications, and “the best way to get them to us, now, is to print the forms from our website (unless you already have them):   dcassessor.org—Homestead Exemption--and print the forms located on the left side of the page.  After you have completed the application, mail it to Douglas County Assessor/Register of Deeds, 1819 Farnam St., 4th floor, Omaha, NE  68183, or email the application to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Applicants will be contacted, if necessary.”

 

COMMUNITY SPREAD PROMPTS CLOSING ORDERS

(March 18, 2020) - The City of Omaha and the Douglas County Health Department took additional, more restrictive measures Wednesday to limit the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19.

Mayor Jean Stothert signed a proclamation declaring a State of Emergency in the City of Omaha.  City Code allows the order to remain in effect for 72 hours. The Omaha City Council can extend the emergency declaration and voted Tuesday to allow that extension.

Douglas County Health Director Dr. Adi Pour signed an order limiting attendance at public gatherings, child care centers, and other businesses with walk-in customer traffic.

The diagnosis of the second case of COVID-19 by community spread in Douglas County prompted new actions Wednesday, including the immediate order to close Omaha bars and restaurants until April 30th. Takeout, drive-through windows, and delivery will still be allowed.

Dr. Pour reported a 46-year-old Omaha man tested positive for COVID-19 Tuesday.  He became sick with a cough and fatigue last week, was admitted to an intensive care unit on March 15, and tested on March 16. He is no longer in intensive care but remains hospitalized.

She said he has not left the country or traveled to high-risk areas in the United States, has not had contact with another COVID-19 positive person, and has not attended large public events.  His case is considered “community spread”.

Dr. Pour says he had contact with fewer than three other people so the risk of further exposure to others is low.

The Health Department also reported three additional positive cases, all travel-related. One person traveled to Europe, another to New York, the third to Denver.

There are now 23 positive cases in Omaha; only two people are hospitalized.

The Omaha City Code gives the mayor the authority to declare the emergency and takes actions “necessary to preserve the health, safety, and property of the citizens of this community”.

“Every one of us understands how difficult it is for everyone in our community,” said Mayor Stothert. “We are trying to prevent and control the spread. We hope this is just a short-term crisis.

Actions permitted by the State of Emergency proclamation include:

  • Prohibit or limit the number of persons who may gather or congregate upon the public highways or public sidewalks, or in any outdoor place, except persons who are awaiting transportation, engaging in recreational activities at a usual and customary place, or peaceably entering or leaving buildings.
  • Establish a curfew limiting the hours when persons may go upon or travel the public streets.
  • Require the closing of cocktail lounges, taverns and bars and prohibit the sale or service of alcoholic beverages in any hotel, restaurant, club or other establishments, and require the closing of other business establishments.

“We have not even discussed curfew,” said Mayor Stothert.

The Omaha Police Department and the Douglas County Sheriff will enforce the new orders requiring business closings and attendance limits.

“It is our intention to issue a citation for non-compliance, but we are very pleased with compliance from our business community so far,” said Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer.

Chief Schmaderer and Fire Chief Dan Olsen encouraged citizens to call 911 only for true public safety and medical and rescue emergencies. 

 

DOUGLAS COUNTY HEALTH REPORTS 2ND CASE OF COMMUNITY SPREAD

(March 18, 2020) - The Douglas County Health Department (DCHD) has identified a second case of COVID-19 resulting from community spread. That means the person did not become infected while traveling or through contact with a known case of the novel coronavirus.

This individual is a man in his 40s who developed symptoms on March 11 and was hospitalized on March 15 after suffering from a worsening cough and fatigue. He was tested for COVID-19 on March 16 and the test returned as positive late March 17. A further investigation today (March 18) confirmed the result.

The individual has no travel history, few close contacts, and no public exposure. There is one additional household member who is self-quarantined.

DCHD also has confirmed three additional travel-related cases of COVID-19. They are a woman in her 60s, a man in his 60s, and a man in his 40s.

The Health Department is asking the public to increase its awareness of self-monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19, which include a fever, cough, sore throat, or difficulty breathing. If you have COVID-19 symptoms or develop symptoms, contact your health care provider and tell them how you are feeling. Please notify them of any potential exposure to a confirmed case of the novel coronavirus. We ask that you call ahead before you go to the doctor’s office or an emergency room.

DCHD epidemiologists will continue contact investigations with everyone who is a confirmed COVID-19 case. The county now has 23 confirmed cases of the disease. 

DCHD’s information line remains open to anyone with general questions about COVID-19. That number, (402) 444-3400, is answered weekdays from 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. Any person who has questions outside those hours is asked to call the United Way’s 2-1-1 Resource Hotline.

 

PUBLIC HEALTH ORDER REQUIRES COMPLIANCE WITH 10-PERSON RULE

(March 18, 2020) - Douglas County Health Director Dr. Adi Pour signed an order Wednesday ordering limits on attendance at public gatherings.  The order remains in effect through April 30th.

Omaha City code gives the county health director authority to issue orders to limit the threat of an epidemic or infectious disease.

The order requires a 10-person limit at all public gatherings within Douglas County, including the City of Omaha.  If a venue is divided into multiple spaces separated by physical spaces, separated by physical walls or sufficient airspace,  the limit per subdivision of space is 10.

Childcare facilities are included in this order.

Specifically, “Childcare must be carried out in stable groups of 10 or fewer children; “stable” means that the same 10 or fewer children are in the same group each day. Children shall not change from one group to another. If more than one group of children is cared for at one facility, each group shall be in a separate room. Groups shall not mix with each other. Childcare providers shall remain solely with one group of children.

The order also lists exceptions: courts, medical providers, public utilities, critical county and city operations, continuity of business operations, logistics/distribution centers, congregate living settings, shelters, public transportation, airport travel, fuel stations, stores or malls and family residences of 10 or more people.  The order does require businesses and organizations that are exempted to observe state and federal guidelines for infection control.

During a meeting Wednesday morning of the Douglas County Board of Health, Dr. Pour said, “Follow the rules. Do not think you are special, because you are not.”

 

OMAHA METRO HEALTH SYSTEMS TO POSTPONE NON-URGENT PROCEDURES  

(March 18, 2020) - Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, executive and medical leadership have been meeting regularly to share information, planning, and logistics to lessen the impact of the illness on our community. This unified organization, the Omaha Metro Healthcare Coalition, has a tremendous responsibility at this point. We all agree there is an emergency, and continue to diligently analyze the impacts on our individual health systems and hospitals, along with the potential impacts of our decisions on the communities we serve. Before the real weight of this public health emergency falls on the healthcare system, we all must consider:

  • Conserving vital medical supplies
  • Protecting our expert workforce
  • Following through on our promises and missions to serve our current and future patients

The coalition weighed and carefully discussed each of these considerations. Several members of the coalition have decided to reschedule non-urgent surgeries or procedures beginning Friday, March 20 that can be postponed for 90 days without the risk of harm to patients.

“Hospital systems in the Omaha area recently made the decision to cancel elective surgeries and they have my full support along with the Governor. This action helps minimize risk for health care providers and their patients and helps preserve needed personal protective equipment for COVID-19 response,” said Gary Anthone, MD, Chief Medical Officer and Director of Public Health for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

The following health systems are making this change:

  • Boys Town
  • CHI Health – Omaha and Council Bluffs metro hospitals
  • Children’s Hospital and Medical Center
  • Methodist Health System
  • Midwest Surgical Hospital
  • Nebraska Medicine
  • OrthoNebraska
  • VA Medical Center

This is a step being taken in other parts of our country that have been hard-hit by this disease. It is a step other countries would take if they could go back before their outbreak reached a critical status. This move allows us to be good stewards of our personal protective equipment and critical care workforce should we see an increase in COVID-19 patients in our hospitals and communities. We will continue to provide urgent/emergent procedures and care for our patients.

Each patient with a procedure to be rescheduled will be contacted by their healthcare provider to let them know of the change. 

The partnership shown during this extraordinary time has been unparalleled. Each coalition member organization has seen it in their own hospitals, surgery centers, and clinics. We are confident that proactive steps such as this will protect the patients who will rely on us and the community as a whole.

 

 

METROPOLITAN UTILITIES DISTRICT: NO WATER OR GAS DISCONNECTIONS
A Message from the Metropolitan Utilities District

(March 18, 2020) - M.U.D. continues to focus on the safety of our employees and customers and the reliability of our services as we take proactive steps to combat the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. During the response to this global event, we are working with local, state and federal experts to make sure our gas and water services remain uninterrupted. 

To ensure customers have access to these life-essential services we have updated our policy regarding disconnections for non-payment. Until further notice, M.U.D. will not disconnect gas or water due to non-payment. The decision to include gas to this policy comes as we enter an unprecedented time in our utility’s history. 

Moving forward our dedicated customer service representatives will work to help customers through financial hardships that may occur as a result of COVID-19, M.U.D. will also work with customers on payment plans. Any impacted customer can call Customer Service at 402.554.6666 or toll-free at 800.732.5864.

M.U.D. is committed to maintaining strict security measures at all facilities and is increasing measures to protect them as we change our social interaction. Until further notice, all M.U.D. water plants will be restricted to personnel essential to the operation. 

M.U.D. is delaying the April 2 board of directors meeting. We will continue to monitor this situation and provide updates as available. The safety, health, and wellbeing of the public, board members and our employees will guide our decisions.

M.U.D. continues to meet all state and federal standards for drinking water. Our dedicated team of water quality experts is continually monitoring the water system. Water samples are checked routinely over 1,000 times a day to ensure a safe supply for all the communities we serve.

Coronavirus has not been shown to be a waterborne disease and our water distribution system has not been compromised. We use multiple barriers of protection from pathogens including disinfection and filtration that remove viruses and other contaminants.

 

DOUGLAS COUNTY PURCHASING

(March 18, 2020) - Due to the spread of COVID-19, the City of Omaha Bid Opening Committee would like to encourage all interested parties to abstain from attending public bid openings every Wednesday at the Omaha/Douglas Civic Center until further notice. 

A tabulation of all bids opened will be posted upon the Douglas County Purchasing Department's website and will be publicly available upon request from the City Clerk's Office as soon as it is reasonably practical.

The City Clerk will attempt to scan and publish on its website certain portions of each bid package that show all or none total of bids submitted and/or any itemized per-unit costs. 

While necessary bids that cannot be postponed will continue to be publicly opened pursuant to the Omaha Home Rule Charter, a reduction in the number of individuals in close proximity for bid openings may help slow the spread of this virus.  As a result, the Bid Opening Committee requests that interested parties use these alternative means to learn the costs of bids submitted and to help the community minimize the opportunities available for this virus to spread from person to person.   

DOUGLAS COUNTY BOARD ISSUES EMERGENCY DECLARATION, ELECTED OFFICES MAKE CHANGES

(March 17, 2020) - The Douglas County Board of Commissioners met on Tuesday and issued a local emergency declaration to provide greater flexibility for requesting funding and entering into contracts amidst the COVID-19 epidemic. This local emergency declaration also provides Douglas County school districts and educational service units with the same flexibility. Several elected officials presented to the Board to announce changes in their office operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are the latest updates:

Douglas County Election Commissioner Brian Kruse:

  • The Election Commission will send a by-mail early voting application to any voter in Douglas County who has not already received or submitted an application – that’s approximately 250,000 voters. This is an effort to give voters the opportunity to vote without having to go to a polling place.

Douglas County District Clerk John Friend:

  • All jury trials within Douglas County District Court through March 20, 2020, have been postponed. There are still cases scheduled for March 23 to March 27, however, each judge is evaluating cases to make a determination whether or not postpone.
  • All jurors who have been summoned on March 23, 2020, should call 402-444-7673 after 5 p.m. on the day before their scheduled reporting date. Listen to the recording for further instructions.

Douglas County Sheriff’s Office updates presented by Capt. Wayne Hudson:

  • The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office will temporarily suspend sending a deputy to every call for service. In the meantime, they are setting up a telephone report line to take low-priority calls.
  • Deputies are being instructed to limit their contact with the public. During certain calls for service, the public may be asked to meet the deputy outside of the residence.
  • With the closing of schools for an unknown amount of time, School Resource Officers are being re-assigned to support other mission-critical functions.

Douglas County Clerk Dan Esch:

  • The Douglas County Clerk's Office is open to the public for marriage licenses.
  • Beginning Wednesday, March 18, 2020, all asking marriage license applicants should schedule an appointment before going into the office. To schedule an appointment, call (402) 444-6080 between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday - Friday.  
  • Couples are encouraged to obtain a marriage license within two weeks or less of their marriage ceremony.     

Douglas County Public Defender Tom Riley:

  • The Douglas County Public Defender’s Office suspended all face-to-face interviews between public defenders and incarcerated clients at the Douglas County Department of Corrections. Staff will use technology to conduct interviews remotely.

DOUGLAS COUNTY HEALTH REPORTS NEW COVID-19 CASES

(March 17, 2020) -  The Douglas County Health Department is confirming three news cases of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus. Two of the cases were announced on Monday during a news conference. One of these cases is a man in his 20s who was in contact with another known case. The second is a man in his 30s who traveled to an area where COVID-19 is circulating and became ill after returning to Douglas County.

The third new case is another man in his 30s who was exposed in another state where COVID-19 is known to be spreading.

The Health Department Community has added some new locations in Omaha as areas of potential low-risk community exposure.

Prairie Life Center at 84th and Q - Saturday, March 14, 6-8 p.m.

Natural Grocers at 7831 Dodge Street - Thursday, March 12, 8-9 p.m. and Sunday, March 15, 2:45-3:15 p.m.

Amateur Coffee at 3913 Cuming Street - Friday, March 13, 8-8:30 a.m. and Saturday, March 14 from 10-11:30 a.m.

Anyone who may have been in those locations at the listed times should self-monitor for symptoms including fever, cough, sore throat, or difficulty breathing.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms or develop symptoms, contact your health care provider and tell them how you are feeling. Please notify them of any potential exposure to a confirmed case of the novel coronavirus. 

 

DOUGLAS COUNTY TREASURER CLOSES CUSTOMER SERVICE CENTERS
(A message from Treasurer John Ewing)

(March 17, 2020) - We are closing our Customer Service Centers to walk-in traffic out of an abundance of caution for the protection of our customers.

The impact should be small for the individual customer who may only utilize our office once or twice during this time.  We will cooperate with Governor Ricketts directives and with our other City and County leaders.  This is in no way a denial of service or the closing of the office.  I want to remind the citizens that they have available to them many ways to complete their business with our office; online payments for vehicle registrations and property tax payments, over the phone vehicle registration renewals and property tax payments, or mail-in registration renewals and property tax payments.  If you mail in property tax payments, please include the coupon inside the envelope provided.  If you don’t have the original envelope you can use a blank envelope and mail it to us at 1819 Farnam St 68183 and mark the envelope property tax.

To continue operations the following steps shall be taken:

  • Communicate with the public frequently through, interviews, social media and our website.
  • We are advising citizens to mail their vehicle renewal transactions to the CSC in their zone (see attached zone map) or to use the drop box located at three of our offices; Downtown 1819 Farnam St, South Customer Service Center 4202 S. 50th St, and the Maple Customer Service Center 15335 West Maple Rd. (Please include their renewal slip or vehicle information, their original insurance card, a phone number and e-mail where they can be reached during the day.)
  • Citizens should mail their property tax payment in the original envelope sent with the tax statement, drop it in one of our three drop box locations (see the zone map). Please include the coupon inside the envelope provided. If they don’t have the original envelope they can use a blank envelope and mail it to us at 1819 Farnam St 68183 mark the envelope property tax or drop it in one of the drop boxes.
  • If customers registering a new vehicle or vehicle transferred from another state must call (402)444-7103. Then the Customer Service Division will transfer the customer to the branch where they will be mailing their paperwork to or using the drop box at. That branch will go over everything that is needed to complete the paperwork. If needed, the customer can email/ scan/ fax copies of all documents for review.
  • Customers are reminded that state law prohibits any alterations on title documents.
  • The preferred method of payment is check, money order or cashier’s check. If a customer does not have one of those forms of payment, please call (402)444-7103.
  • The drive-through windows will be closed with the exception of customers using the drop boxes or for a scheduled appointment
  • Dealers will drop off at the drop box located in the dealer lobby.

 

STATE OF NEBRASKA CHANGES REQUIREMENTS FOR UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

(March 17, 2020) - Governor Pete Ricketts issued an executive order to permit the loosening of eligibility requirements for unemployment insurance benefits.  In line with federal guidance, Governor Ricketts is allowing the Nebraska Department of Labor to waive the following requirements for claims filed between March 22 and May 2.  This time frame will be evaluated as the situation with COVID-19 progress.

  • Work Search - This change applies to all workers filing for unemployment.  While many job search efforts are conducted online, waiving the requirement to search for work is in line with the social distancing practices that are needed to limit the spread of COVID-19 and potential exposure to the disease.  The change will also accommodate those workers who are temporarily impacted by COVID-19, including those who are in an unpaid status due to shutdown, quarantine, or because they are caring for a family member due to illness or facility closure. 
  • Unpaid Waiting Week - This change will make the first week of eligibility payable rather than an unpaid waiting week and will help all unemployment recipients get their payments sooner.
  • Employer charging - Unemployment benefits are typically paid with contributions from employers.  NDOL will temporarily waive charges incurred by employers whose team members are filing claims related to COVID-19.  Nebraska has a healthy Trust Fund that will be utilized to pay for unemployment benefits tied to COVID-19.

The Department of Labor will continue to look at ways to streamline the process of filing for and receiving unemployment insurance benefits as the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve.

Workers needing to file for unemployment benefits should do so online at NEworks.nebraska.gov.  The NEworks mobile app is available to download free for those who don’t have computer access.  For technical assistance, access the NEworks live chat feature, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or call 402-458-2500.

 

DOUGLAS COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS CANCELS MEETINGS

(March 16, 2020) - The Douglas County Board of Commissioners will meet Tuesday, March 17, 2020, at 9 a.m. in the Legislative Chambers but will not hold another meeting until April 7, 2020. The scheduled meetings on March 24 and March 31 have been canceled. The April 7th meeting will take place in room 702 of the Omaha-Douglas Civic Center, 1819 Farnam St., due to technology updates taking place in the Chambers.

 

DOUGLAS COUNTY OFFICES ANNOUNCE CHANGES

(March 16, 2020) - The Douglas County Treasurer's Office will close to public traffic at the end of the business day on March 17, 2020, until further notice. For vehicle registrations, customers may utilize the online renewal process, the U.S. Mail, or the telephone, by calling 402-444-7103.  For property tax payments, besides online and over-the-phone payments, customers may utilize the envelope and coupon that was mailed to them with the statement, and mail the payment to 1819 Farnam Street, 68102.  If that pre-addressed envelope is not available, use a plain envelope and mark it “property tax.” 

Treasurer’s Customer Service Center locations:

North Customer Service Center, 7414 N. 30th Street

South Customer Service Center, 4202 S. 50th Street

Midtown Customer Service Center, 411 N. 84th Street

Millard Customer Service Center, 5730 S. 144th Street

Maple Customer Service Center, 15335 West Maple Street 

The Douglas County Clerk's Office is encouraging the public to complete a Marriage License Application Form prior to visiting its office. The application and more information related to COVID-19 can be found online at www.douglascountyclerk.org

 

OMAHA CITY COUNCIL MEETING CANCELLATIONS
(News Release)

(March 16, 2020) - The Omaha City Council thanks Mayor Stothert, Governor Ricketts and Douglas County Health Department Director Dr. Adi Pour for their ongoing efforts to keep the public informed of the risks associated with the spread of COVID-19.

The City Council is committed to ensuring the city conducts critical business with minimal disruption. We believe, however, some practical considerations are warranted to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. Accordingly, the City Council is announcing the following scheduling and procedural changes intended to minimize meetings of groups in proximity and required appearances before the City Council during the public health crisis:

  • The City Council will meet as scheduled on March 17th. Council meetings scheduled for March 31st and April 7th will be canceled. The Council was not scheduled to meet on March 24th or April 14th. As a result, the next scheduled Council meeting is April 21st.
  • The Council is waiving its rule requiring liquor license applicants to appear for the hearing on their applications until further notice.
  • The Council will not meet as the Board of Equalization on April 7th; the next Board of Equalization will be May 5th.
  • The Pre-Council staff meetings held at 10:30 a.m. on Council meeting days are canceled until further notice. Council members will work with Council Staff and City Clerk Staff to get needed information from Directors, city staff and interested parties regarding Council agenda items.
  • As an alternative to appearing in person at Council meetings, parties interested in providing public testimony on Council agenda items are encouraged to submit that testimony by letter or email to the City Clerk. This testimony will, as always, be distributed to Councilmembers before the Council meeting and will be made part of the official record of proceedings.

 

STATE SUSPENDS VISITS AT NEBRASKA PRISONS
(Nebraska Department of Corrections News Release) 

(March 16, 2020) - Visitation with inmates housed in the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS) has been suspended indefinitely amid concerns about the coronavirus (COVID-19). NDCS Director Scott. R. Frakes said the decision comes at the right time for limiting the spread of the illness across the agency’s 10 facilities.

“While there is no way to keep it out completely, we need to take precautions that will at least reduce the risk of exposure for as long as possible,” said Dir. Frakes. “We have people in the population as well as among our teammates who are at higher risk for infection due to age and a variety of health considerations. They are a primary concern certainly, but we also want to do everything we can to prevent transmission from our facilities back into the community.”

There have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus among staff members or inmates. Some facilities did turn visitors away over the weekend who had acknowledged they presented symptoms or were otherwise at risk for transmitting COVID-19. Tours have also been suspended during this time and volunteers will not be permitted entry to NDCS facilities. Visits from attorneys are being permitted, but attorneys will be screened when they arrive.

“They will be asked if they are showing symptoms, prior to entry. If there are alternatives for communicating with inmates during this time, I would advise that attorneys try to utilize those options in order to avoid close personal contact,” said Dir. Frakes.

NDCS is currently looking into what video technology options may be available for allowing inmates to connect with family members, friends, and others.

“Those opportunities are being explored with our providers. With few exceptions, most inmates have a tablet that allows them to make phone calls from their rooms,” explained Dir. Frakes. “We are going to get as creative as possible to maintain those pro-social family ties while this situation is ongoing.”

                                                                              

COVID-19 TESTING RESOURCES FOR PEOPLE AND PROVIDERS
(Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services News Release)

(March 15, 2020) - Public health officials, health care providers, and labs are working daily to increase Nebraska's capacity to test more people for COVID-19.

Currently, testing supplies are limited. Local, state, and federal partners are working to expand testing supplies and the ability to promptly test people experiencing symptoms. 

Due to testing limitations, health care providers and local health departments are screening people to prioritize testing for those who based on symptoms and exposure history have the highest likelihood of having COVID-19 including:

  • Hospitalized patients who have signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19.
  • Symptomatic patients with a high risk of getting very sick from COVID-19 such as older adults and individuals with underlying health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and lung disease.
  • People including healthcare workers who within 14 days of symptom onset had close contact with a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patient.
  • People who have a history of travel from affected geographic areas (https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices#alert) within 14 days of their symptom onset.
  • Other factors, which can guide COVID-19 testing decisions like COVID-19 infections in a certain area especially where community transmission has been reported.

People who are concerned they may have COVID-19 should self-isolate and call ahead to their primary care provider to be screened over the phone. The provider can evaluate and determine if testing is necessary. Flu activity is also still high in Nebraska. Flu tests should be considered as a first test option before considering a COVID-19 test. “We believe that these resources will be most valuable to our public and the medical providers that are diligently treating sick patients and assessing others who may have had exposure,” said Dr. Gary Anthone, Director of Public Health and Chief Medical Officer for DHHS.

Providers with the resources to evaluate and test patients for COVID-19 virus, and who would like to be added to our DHHS testing availability list should email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your complete contact information.

As we are able to test more people, we’ll provide additional information on where Nebraskans can receive testing on the healthcare network list at www.dhhs.ne.gov/coronavirus.

DHHS will continue to update Nebraskans through the DHHS website and on Facebook and Twitter as we have new information. The CDC’s website is also a good resource for COVID-19 information - https://www.cdc.gov/covid19.

MUTUAL OF OMAHA SHIFTS TO REMOTE WORK, CLOSES HEADQUARTERS 'UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE'
(Official Statement from Mutual of Omaha)

(March 15, 2020) - Mutual of Omaha has advised its home office employees not to report to work at the company’s headquarters and to continue working remotely until further notice.

The company learned late Thursday, March 12, that an employee who works in a relatively isolated area within the home office tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus. Mutual closed its home office on Friday, March 13, for deep cleaning and disinfecting. Those who had come into close contact with the individual are self-isolating.

The cleaning and disinfecting of the home office complex were expected to be complete by late Sunday. However, to protect employees and the public health, Mutual’s home office will remain closed and employees will continue to work from home for the foreseeable future. Approximately 4,200 people work at Mutual’s home office complex.

All critical company functions, including claims and customer service, are operational.

Mutual of Omaha employees who are not able to work because of the pandemic – either because they are not able to work remotely; are self-isolating, or have a health condition or lives with someone with a health condition that puts them at greater risk – will continue to be paid for time missed.

Mutual of Omaha is also providing both leadership and financial resources to aid a community-wide response to the pandemic in the Omaha area.  We are joining with other local foundations to create a fund to support local non-profits that provide services to our most vulnerable neighbors.

“This is a dynamic situation, and we are responding to protect our associates, our customers, our company and our community,” Mutual of Omaha Chairman and CEO James Blackledge said. “We are strong.  We are resilient.  And we care about our customers and each other.  That is how we have managed through every challenge in our 110-year history, and that is how we will meet today’s challenges.”

 

DOUGLAS COUNTY REPORTS NEW COVID-19 CASES AND PUBLIC EXPOSURES

Two new cases of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, have been confirmed in Douglas County residents, including one that was announced Saturday, March 14, as being under investigation. The Douglas County Health Department has continued an extensive contact investigation and determined there also are additional public exposures.

One of these individuals, a woman in her 40s, traveled and was exposed to an earlier confirmed case. The other person, a woman in her 30s, was involved in the Special Olympics basketball tournament in Fremont at the end of February.

The additional public exposures occurred during the following times.

Monday, March 2 at Walmart on 120th Street from 11 a.m.- 7 p.m.

Tuesday, March 3 at Walmart on 180th and Wright form 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Wednesday, March 4:

  • Walmart on 120th Street from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
  • The bus from Barrett’s Barleycorn Pub and Grill at 4322 Leavenworth to the Creighton basketball game against Georgetown.
  • The Creighton-Georgetown basketball game at CHI Health Center.
  • Patty McGown’s 45th and Center after the game from 9:30 to 11:30.
  • Walmart at 168th and West Maple from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Thursday, March 5: Walmart at 11350 Wickersham Blvd. Gretna from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Friday, March 6: Walmart at 168th and West Maple from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.

On Saturday, March 7:

  • Walmart at 168th and West Maple from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • The Creighton-Seton Hall basketball game at CHI Health Center.
  • The Stadium Club from 4-5 p.m.
  • Barry O’s Tavern from 5-6 p.m.
  • Jackson Street Tavern from 6-7 p.m.
  • Drastic Plastic inside the Monster Club from 7-9 p.m.
  • Winchester’s at 70th and Q from 9 p.m. until 1 a.m.

On Tuesday, March 10: outdoor patio at the Kona Grill in Village Point from 5-9 p.m.  

On Wednesday, March 11:

  • Walgreens on 24th and L from 1:30-2 p.m.
  • Hy-Vee on 50th and Center from 5-5:30 p.m.

On Thursday, March 12: Walmart at 168th and West Maple from 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. and from 9-10 p.m.

These are considered low-risk exposures. If you were in these locations during the times listed, please monitor yourself for symptoms that include a fever, cough, sore throat, or difficulty breathing.

 

MAYOR STOTHERT CLOSES LIBRARIES AND COMMUNITY CENTERS

March 15, 2020 - Omaha public libraries and community centers will close Monday, March 16 until further notice.

Mayor Jean Stothert made the decision following the first confirmed “community spread” case of COVID-19.

“It’s very important to take this step now to ensure the safety of our employees and our citizens who use these public facilities,” said Mayor Jean Stothert.

The City of Omaha has 12 public libraries and 13 community centers.  Also closed effective March 16: Hanscom Park Tennis Center, Hummel Nature Center, Koch Family Tennis Center, Motto McLean Ice Arena, and Harry Koch Trap and Skeet Range.  Indoor pools at the community centers will also be closed.

All Community Center and Omaha Public Library programs operated by the City of Omaha and private contractors will be suspended, including the Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging senior meals programs at Florence, Camelot, Adams, and Montclair.  Participants in this program should contact Meals on Wheels about home meal deliveries. Meeting room reservations at libraries will also be suspended.

All libraries and community centers will be deep-cleaned this week.

At this time, there is no change in the summer camp schedules at Hummel, Hanscom, Zorinsky, and Adams. Hummel, Hanscom and Zorinsky camps begin the week of June 1.  The Adams Park camp begins the week of July 6.

 

HENRY DOORLY ZOO AND AQUARIUM TO CLOSE
(from http://www.omahazoo.com/)

(March 15, 2020)  Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium will be closed to the public starting Monday, March 16, through the end of the month.

The decision was made based on the announcement on Saturday, March 14, by Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts of the state’s first case of community spread and Nebraska’s publication of guidance on events and public gatherings. The Zoo is not aware of any guests or employees with positive Coronavirus tests. As the situation changes and decisions are made about the re-opening and events, the Zoo will continue to post updates on this page and through social media.

Programs and events at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium are canceled through March 31. If you purchased a ticket or registered for a program, the Zoo will contact you separately. While we know this is the right decision, there is a busy spring planned at the Zoo and an ongoing schedule of education programs. Zoo staff will continue to monitor this situation and hope to re-activate all plans soon.

The Zoo’s action plan regarding coronavirus includes closely monitoring national, state, and local health authorities for their recommendations regarding the general public and business operations. The Zoo will follow the recommendations regarding safety and precautionary measures issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Douglas (Nebraska) County Health DepartmentNebraska Department of Health and Human Services, and the Iowa Department of Health.

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is committed to clean facilities, including the regular cleaning of objects and areas that are frequently used, such as bathrooms, tabletops, counters, conference rooms, door handles, guardrails and railings. The Zoo will be installing additional alcohol-based hand sanitizers throughout public and employee areas. Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium always follow proper sanitation and cleaning processes, along with adhering to ServSafe in our food service and restaurant areas.

All Zoo employees have been asked to help prevent the spread of disease by taking steps to reduce the transmission of infectious disease in the workplace.

  • The best strategy remains frequent hand washing with warm, soapy water; covering your mouth whenever you sneeze or cough; and discarding used tissues in wastebaskets.
  • The Zoo is providing additional disinfectant wipes throughout the workplace and in common areas.
  • The Zoo has re-affirmed its sick policy and has reminded employees that it is critical that they do not report to work while they are ill.
  • Nonessential travel for employees has also been restricted.

DOUGLAS COUNTY CONFIRMS FIRST COMMUNITY SPREAD COVID-19 CASE  
Two New Travel Cases Reported

 March 14, 2020) -The Douglas County Health Department reports the first local COVID-19 case caused by community spread.

This individual is a woman in her 60s who was reported on Friday, March 13, as a travel-related case. The continuing investigation determined her symptoms appeared before she traveled.

Douglas County Health Director Dr. Adi Pour explained the woman saw her doctor before a planned surgery. She tested negative for both influenza and other respiratory viruses, so her doctor tested her for COVID-19.  Her only symptoms were fatigue and a sore throat. "We're starting to see a variety of symptoms," said Dr. Pour. "Potentially, there are people who have the virus but will not have symptoms."

Dr. Pour said the woman's whereabouts and contacts have been identified, and everyone who may have been exposed has been contacted. She did not attend any large gatherings.  Dr. Pour described her condition as "good".

Governor Pete Ricketts said Friday that two community spread cases in Omaha would result in closing schools for 6-8 weeks, and limiting events and large gatherings to 25-50 people.  Governor Ricketts said employers will be excluded. If schools are closed for long periods of time, that decision will be re-evaluated every two weeks.

"These steps are being taken to protect our community," said Mayor Jean Stothert.

Douglas County is taking these additional steps to prevent the spread of the virus:

The Douglas County Department of Corrections is suspending onsite visitation, effective March 15, 2020, according to Mike Myers, Director of Corrections. He said his staff welcomes well over 1,500 visitors per week for onsite video visitation. 

"We want to ensure the protection of our lobby staff as well as the visitors amidst the COVID-19 crisis in our community," Myers said. "In the coming days, we will announce details regarding expanded capacity for online visitation as a temporary replacement." 

The Douglas County Youth Center and the Douglas County Health Center have also suspended visits.

Two additional travel cases have been confirmed in Douglas County. Those are a man in his 50s who traveled to and from Spain, and a man in his 30s who came to this community from Singapore. Both are in isolation but neither man is hospitalized.

The Health Department also is advising the public of additional potential low-level community exposure. A confirmed travel case first reported on Friday, March 13, was at The Athletic Club, 200 South 31st Avenue,  between 5:00 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 12. This is a low-risk exposure. Anyone who may have been there at that time is asked to self-monitor for 14 days. That means take your temperature twice a day and watch for symptoms.

Symptoms of the disease include a fever, cough, sore throat, or difficulty breathing. If you have COVID-19 symptoms or develop symptoms, contact your health care provider and tell them how you are feeling. Please notify them of any potential exposure to a confirmed case of the novel coronavirus. We ask that you call ahead before you go to the doctor’s office or an emergency room.

Douglas County Health Department epidemiologists will continue to contact investigations with everyone who is a confirmed COVID-19 case. The county now has 16 confirmed cases, not including anyone brought to Nebraska Medicine’s Quarantine or Biocontainment Units.

 

MUSEO LATINO CLOSES UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE
(Statement from El Museo Latino)


(March 14, 2020) - "As a precaution due to public health and safety of our staff, visitors, members, and patrons, El Museo Latino will be closed to the public starting Friday, March 13, 2020.

We will close our galleries and cancel or postpone all public and private gatherings in our space until further notice. The health and safety of our community is our top priority.

We look forward to sharing more information as it becomes available. We look forward to welcoming you back to El Museo Latino again very soon."

 

STATEWIDE COVID-19 INFORMATION LINE OPENS FOR RESIDENTS 
(Official Statement from Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services)

(March 13, 2020) - As Nebraska continues to adjust to a new normal as a result of the impacts of COVID-19 on the state, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has set up a coronavirus (COVID-19) information line that will allow residents to get answers to general questions and receive information on resources available. That number is (402) 552-6645; hours of operation are 8 a.m.- 8 p.m. CST, 7 days a week.

”DHHS is working hand in hand with local health departments and the federal government to ensure that we stop the spread of this virus,” said Dr. Gary Anthone, Director of Public Health and Chief Medical Officer for DHHS. “Keeping Nebraskans safe and illness-free is our top priority. Our info line will be a crucial part of that effort by allowing us to swiftly answer questions about how the state is responding to the needs of its residents and share the latest information and resources to help keep Nebraskans informed.”

If you are concerned that you may have COVID-19, it’s important to remember to call ahead to your healthcare provider to be screened over the phone. The provider can evaluate and determine if testing is necessary. Flu activity is also still high in Nebraska. Flu tests should be considered as a first test option before considering a COVID-19 test.

The Department urges you to self-monitor and contact your health care provider (via phone or email) first to discuss if your symptoms are significant enough to warrant a trip to the medical office. Following this guidance will allow those with the imminent need to get treatment, reduce your potential exposure and minimize the load on health care providers.

Visit the DHHS COVID-19 webpage at http://dhhs.ne.gov/coronavirus and CDC’s website at https://www.cdc.gov/covid19

 

GOVERNOR RICKETTS ISSUES EMERGENCY DECLARATION

(March 13, 2020) - As Nebraska continues to take proactive steps to address COVID-19, Governor Pete Ricketts has signed an emergency declaration, so regulatory provisions of state law can be suspended to aid the state’s response.  This has also allowed him to issue an Executive Order waiving certain hauling requirements for truckers delivering food and supplies, such as food products to grocery stores.

“I am declaring a State of Emergency in Nebraska as we continue to work to be the best-prepared state in the nation for COVID-19,” said Governor Ricketts.  “All across the state, individuals, businesses, employers, and churches are stepping up to make plans to mitigate the impact of the virus.  There is a role for each one of us in this as we work together to keep people healthy.”

The State of Emergency will help the State bring together the resources it needs to combat COVID-19.  It does not mean the State is closing schools or banning mass public gatherings at this time.  

Additionally, Governor Ricketts signed an Executive Order waiving certain hauling requirements. 

DOUGLAS COUNTY REPORTS 12TH CASE OF COVID-19

(March 13, 2020) - A child has been confirmed as Douglas County’s latest case of COVID-19.

The Douglas County Health Department (DCHD) has received presumptive confirmation of this new case on Friday afternoon. The child is a household contact of five earlier cases that were announced on Wednesday. Those individuals are connected to the earlier case of a woman who had traveled to California and Nevada.

Everyone in the household has been in self-quarantine for several days and are close family members of the earlier case. They have not required hospitalization, but remain in self-isolation. Because they are closely related this is not considered community spread.

DCHD epidemiologists will investigate to determine if anyone else in the community has been exposed. This brings the total number of COVID-19 cases in Douglas County to 12, not including anyone brought to Nebraska Medicine’s Quarantine or Biocontainment Units.

DCHD’s information line remains open to anyone with general questions about COVID-19. That number, (402) 444-3400, is answered weekdays from 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. Any person who has questions outside those hours is asked to call the United Way’s 2-1-1 Resource Hotline.

There continues to be no evidence of community spread of COVID-19, with all of the Douglas County cases linked to travel and family members of travelers. Symptoms of the disease include a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms or develop symptoms, contact your health care provider and notify them of your potential exposure to a confirmed case of the novel coronavirus. Please call ahead before you go to the doctor’s office or an emergency room.

 

COX ANNOUNCES SUPPORT TO RESIDENTIAL CUSTOMERS 
Company is increasing speeds, offering free technical support and implementing additional resources to its low-income service for those in greatest need

Company News Release:
(March 13, 2020) Cox announced today additional plans to support residential customers during the coronavirus pandemic. Cox is upgrading internet speeds for select residential packages and implementing a variety of other changes to provide support and relief for our customers and communities in greatest need.

“As learning and work for many shifts to the home, we want customers to have access to the internet speeds and resources that help them to remain productive,” said Pat Esser, president, and chief executive officer of Cox Communications. “During these uncertain times, we don’t want our residential customers to worry about their internet connection. Our network is built to handle peak use day and night to meet the full needs of families’ demands for entertainment, school assignments, and late-night deadlines.”

For the next 60 days Cox is extending the following:

  • Residential customers in the company’s Starter, StraightUp Internet and Connect2Compete packages will be automatically upgraded to speeds of 50 Mbps.
  • For those tiers, Cox is extending its Cox Complete Care remote desktop support at no charge to residential customers with remote helpdesk and assistance for loading new applications they may need to use during this time like online classroom support applications and web conferencing services.
  • In addition to the above, an upgrade to our Essential customers from 30 Mbps to 50 Mbps, originally planned for later in the year, will be deployed now. 

Additional Connect2Compete support efforts activated

Connect2Compete is Cox’s low-cost internet product for families with school-aged children who are enrolled in low-income assistance programs. To ensure digital equity for students without the internet at home, these changes intend to help families with online learning at home. For a limited time, the first month of free service has also been introduced for new Connect2Compete customers. 

“Offering increased speeds, a free month for new customers and advanced services to our Connect2Compete customers will especially help families keep up with assignments and communicate with their schools,” said Esser. “We are also in active discussions about how we can help school systems with a large population of students who need to learn from home. We stand ready to support and serve our communities in times of need.”

Cox is offering to fast-track the qualification process for Connect2Compete.  Schools are being asked to contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with a list of eligible low-income students that currently do not have an internet connection.  Cox will assist in getting students qualified quickly so they can continue learning from home.  Cox has also partnered with PCs for People where families can purchase discounted refurbished computers.  More information can be found here:  https://cox.pcsrefurbished.com/

These changes are in addition to the following commitment the company announced today as part of its pledge to support the FCC’s Keep America Connected initiatives. Previously announced commitments include the company’s agreement to:

  • Not terminate service to any residential or small business customer because of an inability to pay their bills due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Waive any late fees that residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Open Cox Wifi hotspots to help keep the public connected in this time of need.

 

 OMAHA PERFORMING ARTS CANCELS AND POSTPONES SHOWS

(March 13, 2020) – Omaha Performing Arts will suspend all performances at the Orpheum Theater and Holland Performing Arts Center beginning tomorrow, March 14, 2020, through March 31, 2020.

“The health and safety of our patrons, artists, staff, and volunteers are most important,” said Joan Squires, President of O-pa. “We know that the role the arts and live performances play in raising spirits and inspiring us is more important than ever during difficult times. Please be assured that we will work diligently to reschedule these affected artists and performances.”

All performances of Dear Evan Hansen from March 17 – 22, 2020 will be canceled. Our team will automatically issue refunds. Refunds will post to patrons’ accounts within 7-10 business days and will apply to the card used for the original purchase. To request a refund for tickets paid for with cash or check, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Refunds are only available for tickets purchased directly through Ticket Omaha. O-pa is not responsible for refund practices put in place by secondary ticket providers or other sources.

All performances for the remaining shows in O-pa’s Broadway season are expected to go on as scheduled.

Performances for tonight, March 13, 2020, for Yellowjackets at the Holland Center and One Night of Queen at the Orpheum Theater will continue as scheduled. 

Postponed shows include: Rise Above 1st Anniversary Gala Bob Weir Jeanne Robertson Gina Chavez A Capella Live,

Additional performances postponed beyond March 31 are Alice Cooper and Celtic Woman.

We ask all ticket holders for patience during what could be a lengthy rescheduling process. As with all performances, O-pa will update ticket holders directly by email as details emerge and will share information via email, by telephone and social media.

The most current status for all events can be found at O-pa.org and TicketOmaha.com. O-pa will continue to monitor the situation as it evolves, consulting with local, state and national health agencies to ensure the health and well-being of all before anything else.

We look forward to welcoming back our community to enjoy the experience of sharing productions and artists live on stage. Thank you for your patience and your continued support. For the latest information: O-pa.org and TicketOmaha.com on the web Facebook: @Omahaperformingartsorg Twitter: @OPerformingArts Instagram: @operformingarts

CITY OF OMAHA SPRING CLEANUP KICK-OFF MEETING CANCELED

(March 13, 2020) - The community kick-off meeting for the annual Spring Cleanup has been canceled. The Cleanup weekends are still on schedule at this time.

The kickoff meeting was scheduled for March 25th at UNO.

Neighborhood cleanups are planned on five consecutive Saturdays from May 2nd to June 6th.

More information on the Spring Cleanup program is available at this link:  https://wasteline.org/general-information/spring-cleanup/

 

THE ROSE THEATER CLOSED THROUGH MARCH 26, 2020

(Official Statement from The Rose Theater)

(March 13, 2020) - In an effort to prevent the further spread of the COVID-19 virus, The Rose Theater has decided
to cancel all theatrical performances and classes, effective Friday, March 13 through Thursday, March 26. 

There will be no additional performances of The Diary of Anne Frank or Young, Gifted & Black, originally scheduled for this weekend. Although the building is closed to the public, Rose Box Office representatives will be available to take calls throughout the weekend of March 14. Please call (402) 345-4849 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with questions about cancellations.

At this time, The Rose intends to re-open on Friday, March 27. The performance of Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience is anticipated to open as scheduled on March 27, pending new developments. Classes will also resume on Friday, March 27.

This has been a difficult decision, but The Rose has closely followed the guidance of city, state and federal officials to implement strategies recommended by public health authorities and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to ensure the health and well-being of our audience, guests, artists, and staff. No cases of COVID-19 have been traced to the theater; we are acting out of an abundance of caution and concern for our audiences and students.

During this closure, The Rose will take increased measures to provide for the safety of our visitors through an intense cleaning of all spaces, including the theater auditorium and classrooms, door handles, elevator buttons, handrails, floors, seats, armrests, booster seats, counters, and bathroom areas.

This is a dynamic and fast-changing situation and one that presents new challenges to all of us. We continue to rely on information from the Center for Disease Control, Department of Health and other governmental agencies for guidance. We appreciate your cooperation as we work through this situation together. We will continue to share updates as more information becomes available. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact The Rose at (402) 345-4849.

 

OMAHA METRO-AREA CATHOLIC SCHOOLS CLOSED THROUGH MARCH 20, 2020

(March 13, 2020) - On Friday afternoon, Dr. Michael Ashton, the superintendent for the Archdiocese of Omaha, announced that Omaha Metro-area Catholic Schools will be closed Monday, March 16 through Friday, March 20. 

He said, "...the Catholic Schools Office and Chancery maintain constant contact with our health authorities, the department of education, the governor’s office, and public school leadership." 

Dr. Ashton plans to review whether to reopen on March 23, 2020 and will provide a public update by Thursday, March 19. 

 

BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY ANNUAL MEETING 

Warren Buffett notified shareholders Friday that the annual meeting in Omaha will be streamed live, and all special events will be canceled. 
(Letter from Warren Buffett)

March 13, 2020

To the Shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway Inc:

Events have moved very fast since Berkshire issued its annual report on February 22.

The annual meeting will be held at 3:45 p.m. on May 2nd as scheduled. However, we will not be able to allow shareholders to physically attend the meeting, and all special events are canceled.

I very much regret this action; for many decades the annual meeting has been a high point of the year for me and my partner, Charlie Munger.

It is now clear, however, that large gatherings can pose a health threat to the participants and the greater community. We won't ask this of our employees and we won't expose Omaha to the possibility of becoming a "hot spot" in the current pandemic.  Therefore, we will limit attendance to me, possibly Charlie, and several Berkshire employees who will deliver proxy votes.

It's possible that one or more of the journalists that we have listed on page A-2 of the 2019 annual report will be present to answer some of the questions submitted to them.  We are deferring a decision on this matter, but encourage you to continue to send your questions to them.

Yahoo has confirmed that it will stream the meeting. They have provided great coverage in the past, and you can watch what takes place in Omaha from your armchair.

Charlie and I will miss you, but we will see many thousands of you next year.

Thanks for your understanding,
Warren E. Buffett

 

 

TWO NEW COVID-19 CASES CONFIRMED IN DOUGLAS COUNTY 

(March 13, 2020) - The Douglas County Health Department (DCHD) has confirmed two additional cases of COVID-19 in Douglas County residents. These latest individuals to become sick are a man in his 50s and a woman in her 60s. Both of them traveled recently.

DCHD epidemiologists are tracing the contacts of these individuals in our on-going efforts to contain this disease.

“The positive news is that our latest cases also are travel-related,” stated Health Director Dr. Adi Pour. “We continue our extraordinary efforts to prevent community spread.”

The Health Department is asking the public to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The best way to slow the spread of this disease is to wash your hands often, avoid sick people, don’t touch your face, and stay home if you are sick. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or use your sleeve if you cough or sneeze.

The Douglas County Health Department also is encouraging businesses, schools, and the general public to consider the practice of Social Distancing - a Public Health tool that has been successfully used to reduce the spread of infectious diseases.

The idea is to reduce the opportunities for people to gather and potentially share the infection. The goal is to slow or stop the spread of the disease. This can involve limiting large gatherings, closing buildings, and canceling or postponing events. This is especially important for the elderly and those with underlying health conditions to avoid large crowds. These are the individuals who are most at risk from COVID-19.

COVID-19 symptoms include a fever, a cough or trouble breathing. If you develop symptoms, you should contact your health care provider and inform them of the exposure. Please call ahead before you visit a doctor’s office or a waiting room.

Douglas County Health Department’s COVID-19 Information Line is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at (402) 444-3400 to answer general questions about this new disease. The line is answered in English and Spanish. The United Way’s 2-1-1 information line is also taking calls when the DCHD line is closed.

NCAA CANCELS CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES

(March 12, 2020) - For the first time in 71 years, the College World Series will not be played in Omaha.  It won’t be played at all.

The NCAA canceled the College World Series Thursday, and all other winter and spring championships.

“The NCAA must feel this is the best decision it could make for the student-athletes and their families,” said Mayor Jean Stothert. “The impact of COVID-19 is going to hurt, but it’s going to hurt every city.”

In a statement Thursday afternoon, the NCAA announced both the College World Series and the basketball championship tournament will be canceled, “President Mark Emmert and the Board of Governors canceled the Division 1 men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, as well as all remaining winter and spring NCAA championships. This decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events do not contribute to the spread of the pandemic, and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decisions by other entities.”

Both cancellations will affect Omaha.  Omaha would have hosted the first and second rounds of the basketball tournament on March 20 and 22 at the CHI Health Center.

“It’s a significant blow to Omaha’s economy,” said Mayor Stothert. “The revenue we will lose is not the most important thing, public health and safety are the most important.”

Estimates show the College World Series has an economic impact of approximately $70 million to the city’s economy.

“There is a human side of all these cancellations. We have to consider the financial impact on the city, but also the individuals that will be affected,” said Mayor Stothert.

Mayor Stothert said there is still hope the Olympic Swim Trials will proceed as planned this summer.

 

OPS CLOSES SCHOOLS THROUGH MARCH 20

(Letter to OPS families from Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Logan)

(March 12, 2020)

Dear Omaha Public Schools Families: 

We are writing to you because we value the health and safety of our students, staff, and families. We continue to work with the Douglas County Health Department on the evolution of COVID-19 in our community. 

Beginning Monday, March 16, 2020, all Omaha Public Schools will be closed as a preemptive measure to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our community. Omaha Public Schools Foundation Kids Club will also be closed. Please understand this decision was made after careful consultation with state and local officials. 

Continued Learning Opportunities for Students 

We have plans in place to ensure students can stay engaged throughout this closure. 

  • Students in Elementary School: Each elementary school has printed packets to provide home learning for PK through sixth-grade students. On Monday, March 16, these packets are available for pick up between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Packets can be picked up at your student’s school. The packets are also available on the Omaha Public Schools website. 
  • Students in Middle and High School: Students will be provided one activity per week, per class via email or another a digital platform for most classes. More information will be forthcoming from individual teachers. Students will be expected to complete the lessons during the closure. The lessons are designed to keep students engaged in learning but will not be graded. If your family has internet access at home but not a household computer or mobile device, please contact your school principal by email before Sunday, March 15. We will strive to assist. 
  • All Students Thanks to a great partnership between Omaha Public Schools and Scholastic, all families have access to online reading materials. 

▪ The Learning at Home Site, provided by Scholastic, is for Pre-K through grades 9+ and is a completely free resource to be used at home. There will be approximately three hours of learning opportunities that will include projects based on exciting articles and stories, virtual field trips, reading and geography challenges and more. This home resource will be available March 13-April 20, 2020. Log in at www.scholastic.com/learnathome

Questions for Teachers Certified teachers will be available to answer questions via email for students and families. 

Meal Service and The Food Bank of the Heartland. We understand that many students rely on school meals. Due to the recommendation to limit large gatherings of individuals and in the interest of student and staff safety, meals will not be provided during the closure. We are grateful for our partners at the Food Bank of the Heartland who are preparing to assist families who need it. More information will be shared in the days to come. 

Limiting Contact During the Closure.  We want to reiterate that the goal of a community closure is to mitigate the spread of the virus. We ask that staff, families and community members follow the guidance of the CDC and Douglas County Health Department. The CDC recommends the best way to stop the spread in a community is to limit exposure to others. 

Next Steps As of right now, we will close for one week. At that time, we will work with state and local officials to assess the current community health situation and determine the readiness to return to school. We will continue to work with the Douglas County Health Department to ensure we are providing updated information to our families and staff. More information can also be found at ops.org. If you have school or classroom-specific questions, please contact your teacher or principal by email. If you have general questions for the district, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Because of the volume of questions, we may receive, we will strive to respond within three business days. 

It is times like these that our community values are visible. Please take care of each other. Reach out to neighbors and friends and lend a hand to those in need. We will get through this, but it will take all of us thinking creatively and continuing to support our community’s children. 

Sincerely, 

Cheryl J. Logan, Ed.D. 

Superintendent

 

MILLARD SCHOOLS TO CLOSE MARCH 13, PREPARING FOR NEXT STEPS

(Letter to Millard families from Superintendent Dr. Jim Sutfin)

(March 12, 2020)

Dear Millard Families, 

We have been following the Coronavirus pandemic very closely. Safety and health are of the utmost importance to all of us. unfortunately, the time has come for a difficult but necessary step. Tomorrow, March 13, 2020, we will close the school. 

Our staff will report tomorrow. This extra day before Spring Break will give us time to get organized for the possibility of eLearning. Next week the District is taking the opportunity to continue cleaning our buildings. 

Throughout the break, all student activities are canceled. This includes all practices, travel, and performances. Additionally, we will close all outside community use beginning Monday morning, March 16th. 

At this moment, I do not know if we will be closed after spring break. It depends on many factors that we will be looking at over the next week.  

I have no doubt that this is unsettling and together we will have to walk our way through this.  I have made this decision by working alongside other community leaders and health experts. 

We will keep you as up-to-date as possible.  


Sincerely, 

Jim Sutfin
Jim Sutfin, Ed.D.
Superintendent

 

 

UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA ANNOUNCES CHANGE TO ON-LINE CLASSES AT ALL CAMPUSES

(March 12, 2020) - All four University of Nebraska campuses announced today that as COVID-19 continues to spread, they will transition to remote-access learning after spring break in order to help protect the health and safety of their communities.

Classes at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the University of Nebraska at Omaha and the University of Nebraska at Kearney will be taught remotely beginning the week of March 30, when students return from spring break, and will not meet in-person for the rest of the semester. UNL and UNO have also canceled classes next week to allow faculty additional time to prepare for remote delivery of their coursework. The University of Nebraska Medical Center will move to remote teaching for preclinical courses the week following the spring breaks, which vary by program.

All campuses over the past several weeks have asked faculty to plan for the possibility of remote learning as COVID-19 has spread across the United States and globally. While university business operations are continuing as normal at this time, campuses have also begun work-from-home preparations in the event large numbers of employees would be asked to work remotely.

NU System President Ted Carter praised the chancellors, their leadership teams, faculty and staff for their thoughtful, diligent and student-focused planning.

“The health and safety of both the University of Nebraska community and our communities at large is our highest priority. That’s especially true in the uncertain and rapidly evolving global situation that we find ourselves in,” Carter said. “The chancellors and I, along with the Board of Regents and Governor Ricketts, have been in constant communication about how best to protect those we serve – starting with our 51,000 students – while also continuing the critical work of the University.

“The steps we are taking today will require all of us to make some adjustments. But we believe this is the right thing to do for our community. I know our faculty, staff, and students will rise to the challenge.”

Campuses are encouraging students who live on campus to return home given that social distancing can help slow the spread of the virus. University residence halls and dining facilities will remain open, however, to support those who are unable to return home. Some shared facilities like libraries are expected to remain open, although services and hours may be limited.

University leadership teams are continuing to discuss major events, including spring commencement ceremonies and athletic events, and will share any decisions as they are made.

All NU campuses previously announced the cancellation of university-sponsored student international travel for the remainder of the spring semester. All non-essential university-sponsored international and domestic travel for students, faculty, and staff has now also been suspended until the end of the semester. The university is strongly encouraging students and employees to consider whether personal travel is necessary.

Detailed information about each campus’ COVID-19 planning can be found at the following websites:

 

 

TWO METRO BUSINESSES IDENTIFIED FOR POSSIBLE EXPOSURES 

(March 12, 2020) - The Douglas County Health Department (DCHD) continues to investigate the most recent cases of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus. These investigations involve tracing the activities of individuals who are sick in our continuing efforts to contain the disease.

Our epidemiologists have identified two locations as the site of possible low-risk exposures. Those exposures would have occurred during the following times at these locations:

  • The Subway Sandwich shop inside the Walmart Supercenter on 1800 North 16th Street in Council Bluffs on Sunday, March 8, from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m.
  • The PepperJax Grill at 1221 Howard Street in Omaha on Sunday, March 8 from 5:30-9 p.m.

While this is considered a low-risk exposure, if you visited either of these locations on Sunday, March 8 during the hours listed above it is recommended that you monitor yourself for fever and other symptoms for 14 days. Those symptoms include a fever, a cough or trouble breathing. If you develop symptoms, you should contact your health care provider and inform them of the exposure. Please call ahead before you visit a doctor’s office or a waiting room.

The best way to slow the spread of COVID-19 is to wash your hands often, avoid sick people, don’t touch your face, and stay home if you are sick. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or use your sleeve if you cough or sneeze.

Douglas County Health Department’s COVID-19 Information Line is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at (402) 444-3400 to answer general questions about this new disease. The line is answered in English and Spanish. The United Way’s 2-1-1 information line is also taking calls when the DCHD line is closed.

 M.U.D.: OMAHA WATER SUPPLY IS SAFE 

(March 12, 2020) - As always, public safety and the reliability of the services we provide remain the top priority of the Metropolitan Utilities District. M.U.D.’s systems continue to operate normally, providing customers with high-quality water and natural gas. M.U.D. is following its Business Continuity Plan as it relates to pandemic preparedness and is working closely with local, state and federal agencies.

M.U.D. continues to meet all state and federal standards for drinking water. Our dedicated team of water quality experts is continually monitoring the water system. Water samples are checked routinely over 1,000 times a day to ensure a safe supply for all the communities we serve.

“First and foremost, Coronavirus has not been shown to be a waterborne disease and our water distribution system has not been compromised,” said Director of Water Quality Chris Fox. “We use multiple barriers of protection from pathogens including disinfection and filtration that target viruses and other contaminants.”

Until further notice, M.U.D. will not be disconnecting water services due to non-payment. This is to ensure customers have access to tap water for drinking, cooking and thorough hygiene practices such as hand washing, bathing, and cleaning.

For updates, visit our website at www.mudomaha.com and follow us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/mudomahane/) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/mudomahane).

 

ST. PATRICK'S DAY PARADE CANCELLED

(March 12, 2020) - The Ancient Order of Hibernians has canceled the St. Patrick's Day parade on, Saturday, March 14. Another tough, but the proactive decision as more and more large events are impacted by COVID-19.

We have carefully studied the question of who has the authority to cancel events or order closings.

Under the Nebraska State Statute, the governor and local public health officials have the authority to order closings or cancel events.

The City of Omaha Municipal Code also gives the mayor the authority to act is very limited and extreme circumstances. Chapter 8 applies to disaster preparedness, and Chapter 12 applies to health and sanitation. These sections could apply if the threat is extreme, widespread and catastrophic.

The mayor’s decision must then be based on a recommendation from public health officials. At this time, there is no such recommendation. We talk to the health director every day to receive current information from her.

 

DAN + SHAY POSTPONE AND RESCHEDULE SPRING TOUR

(March 12, 2020) - Due to the unprecedented circumstances surrounding the Coronavirus, the spring leg of Dan + Shay The (Arena) Tour has been postponed. The tour has been rescheduled, and previously purchased tickets will be honored for all dates as outlined below. Check venue websites for updates and further information. 

From Dan + Shay: 

“Well, here we are.  March 12, 2020, sitting in a bus parked outside Wells Fargo Arena, making a statement we never thought we’d have to make.  After the mandatory postponement of our Philadelphia show, and several others in the coming weeks, we have made the collective decision (with our team and health officials) to postpone the spring leg of THE (ARENA) TOUR.  These shows mean the world to us, and it was important that they are postponed and not canceled, but more than the shows, our fans mean the world to us, and protecting their safety is the number one priority. We want the shows to be memorable, and not experienced with fear.

Thank you all for your patience and understanding.  It is a strange, strange time for all of us, but we felt this was the right thing to do. We hope that everyone can make their city’s rescheduled date, but if not, refunds will become available at the point of purchase.  Stay safe out there.”

NEW DATES: Dan + Shay The (Arena) Tour 2020

Date

City

Venue

July 30, 2020

Tulsa, OK

BOK Center

July 31, 2020

Dallas, TX

American Airlines Center

August 1, 2020

San Antonio, TX

AT&T Center

August 6, 2020

Louisville, KY

KFC Yum! Center

August 7, 2020

Grand Rapids, MI

The Van Andel Arena

August 8, 2020

Oro-Medonte, ON

Burl’s Creek Event Grounds

August 13, 2020

Omaha, NE

CHI Health Center

August 14, 2020

Kansas City, MO

Sprint Center

August 15, 2020

Chicago, IL

United Center

August 21, 2020

Calgary, AB

Prairie Wind Park

August 28, 2020

Milwaukee, WI

Fiserv Forum

August 29, 2020

Minneapolis, MN

Target Center

September 10, 2020

Greenville, SC

Bon Secours Wellness Arena

September 11, 2020

Charlottesville, VA

John Paul Jones Arena

September 12, 2020

Greensboro, NC

Greensboro Coliseum Complex

September 17, 2020

North Little Rock, AR

Simmons Bank Arena

September 18, 2020

St Louis, MO

Enterprise Center

September 19, 2020

Detroit, MI

Little Caesars Arena

September 24, 2020

Washington DC

Capital One Arena

September 25, 2020

New York, NY

Madison Square Garden

September 26, 2020

Pittsburgh, PA

PPG Paints

September 28, 2020

Philadelphia, PA

Wells Fargo Center

October 1, 2020

Orlando, FL

Amway Center

October 2, 2020

Atlanta, GA

State Farm Arena

October 3, 2020

New Orleans, LA

Smoothie King Center

October 5, 2020

Indianapolis, IN

Bankers Life Fieldhouse

October 8, 2020

Newark, NJ

Prudential Center

October 9, 2020

Boston, MA

TD Garden

October 10, 2020

Uncasville, CT

Mohegan Sun Arena

October 11, 2020

Hershey, PA

GIANT Center

October 15, 2020

Denver, CO

Pepsi Center

October 16, 2020

Salt Lake City, UT

Vivint Smart Home Arena

October 17, 2020

Las Vegas, NV

T-Mobile Arena

October 21, 2020

Glendale, AZ

Gila River Arena

October 23, 2020

San Francisco, CA

Chase Center

October 24, 2020

Sacramento, CA

Golden 1 Center

October 29, 2020

Boise, ID

Boise State University – Extra Mile Arena

October 30, 2020

Portland, OR

MODA Center

October 31, 2020

Tacoma, WA

Tacoma Dome

 

LUMINEERS OMAHA CONCERT CANCELLED

(March 12, 2020) - The Lumineers have announced the postponement of their scheduled performance in Omaha Saturday night. 

Below is an official statement from the band:

"The health and safety of our fans and the people who work with us is our greatest concern. So, due to the escalating COVID-19 health concerns, we need to reschedule our upcoming shows in St Paul and Omaha. 

Thank you for showing up every night and supporting us on this tour. All of the shows have been amazing, and although we would most definitely prefer to continue the tour, we feel it is in the best interest of all involved at this time to follow the advice of health officials to limit gatherings of large crowds."

Rescheduled dates are as follows:

Omaha – September 22, 2020

All tickets for the shows will be honored for the rescheduled dates. Should ticketholders choose to seek a refund, they will be available at Ticketmaster.

We are truly grateful for your understanding, and we look forward to seeing you later this year. Our hearts go out to the families affected by this pandemic.

https://thelumineers.com/

 

FAMILY TESTS POSITIVE, QUARANTINED AT HOME 

(March 11, 2020) - The Douglas County Health Department (DCHD) has received presumptive confirmation of five additional COVID-19 cases related to the county’s most recent case. That case is a woman in her 40's who had traveled to California and Nevada.

These five individuals have been in self-quarantine for several days and are close family members of the earlier case. They have not required hospitalization, but remain in self-isolation. Because they are closely related this is not considered community spread.

DCHD epidemiologists will investigate to determine if anyone else in the community has been exposed.

This brings the total numbers of COVID-19 cases in Douglas County to nine, not including the passengers from the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship who were brought to the Nebraska Biocontainment Unit.

Public Health officials continue to believe the risk to the general public remains low. People are encouraged to monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms which include a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms or develop symptoms, contact your health care provider and notify them of your potential exposure to a confirmed case of the novel coronavirus. Please call ahead before you go to a doctor's office or emergency room.

 

CITY AND DOUGLAS COUNTY PREPARE FOR WIDESPREAD VIRUS AND PROTECTIVE ACTIONS

(March 11, 2020) - Mayor Jean Stothert and Douglas County Board Chairman Clare Duda outlined city and county plans Wednesday to maintain government operations if COVID-19 becomes more widespread and requires extraordinary actions.

“We are diligently working with Douglas County and our health care partners to protect public health and safety,” said Mayor Stothert. “We are working together to lower the risk and reduce the impact on our community.”

Mayor Stothert signed an Executive Order May 6 that requires all City departments to update existing Continuity of Operations plans to protect the city’s workforce and help avoid interruptions to services in the event of widespread illness.

Directors have identified critical services and personnel needed to maintain operations in each department.  The City has procedures and the network capacity so all city employees could work from home if that becomes necessary.

“We are prepared so city government can continue,” said Mayor Stothert.

Police Chief Todd Schmaderer has suspended all travel and outside training. The OPD volunteer program is also temporarily suspended. Many volunteers are elderly and most susceptible to the virus.

Additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), hand sanitizer for precincts, disinfectant wipes, and sprays are ordered.

Each Deputy Chief has identified personnel that can work from home if necessary. No OPD employees are authorized to work from home at this time. 

There has been no change in police response to emergency calls but if the threat becomes more widespread in Omaha, lower priority calls for police service (Priority 3 and 4 calls) could be handled in a different manner.

At this time, the Omaha Fire Department’s response protocol has also not changed.

“Our training, experience and policies and protocols put us in a very good position to keep our members safe and well, while also allowing us to serve our community appropriately,” said Fire Chief Dan Olsen.

Firefighters and medics will wear personal protective equipment depending on the nature of the emergency call.  To care for low-risk patients, OFD will use CDC-recommended gloves, goggles, and masks. If a patient is a high risk, medics will also wear gowns.

If a firefighter experiences signs or symptoms and has transported a positive COVID-19, or suspected COVID-19 patient, the following steps will be taken:

  • The OFD Medical Director speaks directly with the Firefighter
  • The Medical Director will communicate with doctors at the Biocontainment Unit
  • Together, the doctors will decide if the firefighter should be tested based on the risk of exposure, and the severity of the symptoms

If COVID-19 becomes more widespread in the community, that plan will be re-evaluated.

“When we wear the appropriate level of protective gear, our firefighters are safe,” said Chief Olsen.

Commissioner Duda described the situation as fluid, requiring 24/7 evaluation. “Each of our departments and elected offices maintain a Continuity of Operations Plan,” said Duda. “We are confident our departments and offices will be able to properly respond to such an outbreak should it occur.”

Duda announced Douglas County has suspended visits at the Douglas County Health Center and implemented visitor screening procedures at the Douglas County Youth Center, the Community Mental Health Center and General Assistance.  

This week, Douglas County Emergency Management formed a Unified Command-a group of public agency partners that will work together to develop a coordinated community response. Douglas County Health Director Dr. Adi Pour will lead the Unified Command.  Members include law enforcement, Omaha and suburban Douglas County fire departments, Public Information Officers, emergency managers, city and county legal staff and Eppley Airfield police and fire.

The Health Department reported at 10:30 am Wednesday that 298 people in Douglas County are self-quarantined, 44 are being actively monitored for symptoms. There are no mandatory quarantine or isolation orders in place.

“We want to use the least restrictive method to stay safe.  People are more than willing to cooperate,” said Douglas County Division Chief Carol Allensworth.

Nearly 400 calls have been made to the Health Department’s information line since Monday.

Metro hospitals have also formed a Unified Command.

“We are well-prepared,” said Mayor Stothert. “People should be responsible but not panic.”

NCAA: NO FANS IN ARENAS HOSTING THE MARCH MADNESS TOURNAMENT 

(March 11, 2020) -The NCAA announced late Wednesday that the 2020 basketball tournament will be played without fans in the arenas.  Omaha will still host first and second-round games on March 20 and 22 at the CHI Health Center, but the only essential staff and limited family attendance will be allowed.

"The NCAA and its COVID-19 advisory panel made the tough decision to play without fans in the arenas," said Mayor Jean Stothert. "As we learn more about the virus and the pace at which it spreads, it may be necessary for others to take similar actions. The City of Omaha looks forward to welcoming the players, coaches, and families of the student-athletes who will play in the first round games here in Omaha."

Statement from NCAA President Mark Emmert:  

The NCAA continues to assess the impact of COVID-19 in consultation with public health officials and our COVID-19 advisory panel. Based on their advice and my discussions with the NCAA Board of Governors, I have made the decision to conduct our upcoming championship events, including the Division 1 men's and women's basketball tournaments with only essential staff and limited family attendance.  While I understand how disappointing this is for all fans of our sports, my decision is based on the current understanding of how COVID-19 is progressing in the United States. The decision is in the best interest of public health, including that of coaches, administrators, fans and most importantly our student-athletes. We recognize the opportunity to compete in an NCAA national championship is an experience of a lifetime for the students and their families. Today, we will move forward and conduct championships consistent with the current information and will continue to monitor and make adjustments as needed. 

 

DOUGLAS COUNTY HEALTH INVESTIGATORS ASK FOR PUBLIC HELP 

(March 11, 2020) The Douglas County Health Department (DCHD) has launched a contact investigation into the county’s latest case of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus. This involves tracking the activities of the individual who is sick in a continuing effort to contain the disease.

Our epidemiologists have identified the Advanced Auto Parts store at 17140 Evans Plaza as a location where members of the public may have been exposed to COVID-19.

Those exposures would have occurred during the following times:

  • Monday, March 2 from 12 noon until 9 p.m.
  • Tuesday, March 3 from 1 p.m. until 9 p.m.
  • Thursday, March 5, from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m.
  • While this is considered a low-risk exposure, if you visited this location on these days and during those hours it is recommended that you monitor yourself for fever and other symptoms, such as a cough or trouble breathing, for 14 days after that visit to the store. If you develop symptoms, you should contact your health care provider and inform them of the exposure. Please call ahead before you visit a doctor’s office or a waiting room.

The best way to slow the spread of COVID-19 is to wash your hands often, avoid sick people, don’t touch your face, and stay home if you are sick. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or use your sleeve if you cough or sneeze.

Douglas County Health Department’s COVID-19 Information Line is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at (402) 444-3400 to answer general questions about this new disease. The line is answered in English and Spanish. The United Way’s 2-1-1 information line is also taking calls when the DCHD line is closed.

 

DOUGLAS COUNTY SUSPENDS VISITATION AS PREVENTATIVE MEASURE AGAINST COVID-19

(March 11, 2020) Douglas County Health Center is responding to the spread of coronavirus and actively preparing to prevent COVID-19.

The health and wellness of our residents and the caregivers who support them is our top priority. Our team is concerned, we are informed, and we are providing ongoing updates as they arise. This is a fast-changing situation, and we are committed to ensuring that our residents, their families, our dedicated staff, and our community are aware of our efforts and the precautions required for COVID-19 prevention.

Douglas County Health Center leadership is in regular communication with local and state public health officials, including Douglas County Health Department as well as monitoring recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of 3/11/2020 at 8:00 am, DCHC has implemented its emergency preparedness plan, which includes stopping all visitation. This precautionary measure is vital to helping us avoid and minimize the possible spread of coronavirus. We recognize the hardship this restriction may cause residents and family, but due to our vulnerable population, we believe these steps are necessary at this time.

Douglas County Health Center will continue to support the needs of our community partners by continuing to accept admissions at this time.

We want to reassure everyone at this time, we do not have any diagnosed cases of residents or staff being infected with the coronavirus. Open communication is crucial. We will provide regular updates on our website, dchc.douglascounty-ne.gov, and on the Douglas County Health Center Facebook page.

 

DOUGLAS COUNTY HEALTH DIRECTOR REPORTS 4TH COVID-19 CASE IN OMAHA 

(March 10, 2020) The Douglas County Health Department has received presumptive confirmation of another local case of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus. The individual is a woman in her forties who recently traveled to California and Nevada. She is recovering at home.

The Health Department is conducting a contact investigation to learn if anyone else may have been exposed to COVID-19. That is the proven public health method for containing an infectious disease. DCHD will evaluate the situation and determine if any additional action is needed.

The best way to slow the spread of COVID-19 is to wash your hands often, avoid sick people, don’t touch your face, hands or nose, and stay home if you are sick. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or use your sleeve if you cough or sneeze.

COVID-19 symptoms may include fever, cough, and breathing difficulties. Most people who become ill from this disease will recover with rest and fluids.

The Douglas County Health Department’s COVID-19 Information Line is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at (402) 444-3400. The line is answered in English and Spanish. The United Way’s 2-1-1 information line is also taking calls when the DCHD line is closed.


DOUGLAS COUNTY HEALTH DIRECTOR REPORTS TWO ADDITIONAL COVID-19 CASES

(March 8, 2020) The Douglas County Health Department (DCHD) has received presumptive confirmation of two more COVID-19 cases related to the first case. These presumptive positive cases are family members of Nebraska’s first case, a 36-year-old Douglas County woman.

These two family members had COVID-19 symptoms and have been in self-quarantine since Friday and remain there. Other close contacts of the first case have tested negative for COVID-19.

“We expected this to happen,” Health Director Dr. Adi Pour said. “This demonstrates the importance of contact investigations and shows how well they work.”

The good news is these two newest cases had limited exposure to other individuals in the community. DCHD epidemiology investigators have developed a list of contacts and will be reaching out to them individually. Those individuals will be informed of any health risks and how they can protect themselves and other potential contacts.

These are the second and third cases in Nebraska, other than individuals who were brought to the Nebraska Biocontainment Unit from the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship. Anyone with questions about COVID-19 is welcome to call DCHD’s information line at (402) 444-3400 weekdays from 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. Outside those hours questions can be directed to the United Way’s 2-1-1 Resource Hotline.

Public Health officials continue to believe the risk to the general public is low. People are encouraged to monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms which include a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms or develop symptoms, contact your health care provider and notify them of your potential exposure to a confirmed case of the novel coronavirus. Please call ahead before you go to the doctor’s office or an emergency room.

 

CITY GOVERNMENT PREPARED FOR COVID-19

(March 7, 2020) Mayor Jean Stothert has directed City departments to update emergency preparedness plans to ensure that city services will continue in the event of a COVID-19 pandemic.

Mayor Stothert signed an Executive Order on May 6 that requires all departments to update existing “Continuity of Operations” plans to protect the city’s workforce and help avoid interruptions to services.

“Public safety and public health are first and foremost. Every department is prepared so city government can continue if that becomes necessary,” said Mayor Stothert

In part, Executive Order S-43-20 reads: “Identifying critical and essential processes and emergency successors are inherent to the success of City government operations during emergencies. Continually updating workplace procedures so that all employees understand their role in the event of a pandemic is essential.  The primary threat to the performance of critical and essential services during a pandemic is high absenteeism.  Preparing and protecting our workforce will help avoid interruptions to these services.”

Friday, a 36-year old Omaha woman tested positive for COVID-19. She is hospitalized in the Biocontainment Center at the Nebraska Medical Center. The Health Department reported she recently returned from the United Kingdom and there is no indication of community spread at this time. 

Douglas County Health Director Dr. Adi Pour described her as “critically ill, but stable.”

The woman had visited three health care facilities before she was admitted to the Biocontainment Center. As a precaution, 30 health care workers have self-quarantined for 14 days. None has COVID-19 symptoms. 

She also played in a Special Olympics basketball game in Fremont on February 29th. State and local health officials are requesting players, coaches and team staffs to self-quarantine until March 14th.  The Special Olympics event was held at the Fremont Family YMCA at 810 N. Lincoln Avenue.

At a news conference Saturday at the Douglas County Health Department, Mayor Stothert reassured citizens.

“The citizens of Omaha are in good hands,” said Mayor Stothert. “With the leadership and expertise of Douglas County Health Director Dr. Pour and Nebraska Medicine, and the support of the State of Nebraska Health Department, no other city has the training, facilities, and preparedness to respond to this type of virus.”  

Dr. Pour said there are two goals at this time, to contain the virus as long as possible to avoid community spread and to protect high-risk persons - those with diabetes, heart disease, respiratory illness, compromised immune systems and the elderly. “At this time, we do not see any community spread. It should be safe to move around as usual,” said Dr. Pour.

Mayor Stothert has scheduled a news conference Wednesday, March 11 to provide continuing updates on preparedness plans.  Dr. Pour, Police Chief Todd Schmaderer, Fire Chief Dan Olsen, Douglas County Board Chairman Clare Duda, and MECA President Roger Dixon will also attend.

“We will use best practices and follow the CDC recommendations,” said Mayor Stothert. “If you have flu symptoms, please don’t go to the emergency room, call your primary doctor. Doctors will most likely do a flu test first. If negative, a recommendation will be made if a coronavirus test is necessary.”

Sarpy/Cass Health Director Sarah Schram also confirmed Saturday that a 65-year-old woman is also being tested for COVID-19.  She recently returned from international travel.  The Health Department has identified a group of people at Omaha’s Marrs Middle School (fewer than 10) who may have had contact with the woman when she visited the school last week.  A quarantine has not been recommended and OPS is on Spring Break until March 16.