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UNMC/Nebraska Medicine staff ready for coronavirus patients if they come

Posted at 6:20 PM, Feb 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-06 19:28:08-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The staff at UNMC and Nebraska Medicine has been through this before.

Back in 2014, patients infected with the Ebola virus were sent to the bio-containment unit for treatment.

Over the last five plus years, staff have continued to train for viruses like that, as well as everything else, including respiratory illnesses like the coronavirus.

"Our all volunteer staff has been training and preparing for years for exactly this circumstance,” says Dr. James Lawler, co-director UNMC Global Center.

If a quarantined person tests positive for any respiratory illness at Camp Ashland, they'll take a special transport to be evaluated by a doctor. If it is less serious they'll be quarantined in the new Davis Global Center, which contains 20 hotel style rooms.

If symptoms are severe, they'll go to the same facility that was used to treat Ebola patients.

"If they have symptoms such that they require hospitalization, we will take them to the bio-containment unit,” says Lawler.

UNMC says that unit is the largest of its kind in the country.

"We feel that we have the best facility in the world to manage this type of eventuality,” says Lawler.

Governor Pete Ricketts said that Nebraskans stepped up last year for the flooding, now they're being asked to again, this time to protect the country.

"We have a duty to our fellow Americans to be able to help these rescued folks and make sure we continue to protect not only their safety, but the safety of all Americans," says Ricketts.

Officials said Thursday that everybody coming to Nebraska will be considered healthy but because they were in China, they may have been exposed to the coronavirus, therefore they're taking every precaution they can in order to keep the illness from spreading.

Officials handling the quarantine operation held a press conference Thursday morning at Nebraska Medicine to update the public:

Officials Address Coronavirus Quarantine Concerns