Ricketts: Nebraska could be dealing with virus for a year

Posted at 2:42 PM, Mar 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-09 15:42:52-04

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Gov. Pete Ricketts warned Monday that Nebraska could be dealing with the coronavirus outbreak for the next nine to 12 months and urged the public to take precautionary steps to keep it from spreading.

Ricketts said the number of known cases in Nebraska has risen to three, but there aren’t yet indications that it’s spreading within communities.

The three people diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, are a 36-year-old Omaha woman and her father and brother. The woman first experienced symptoms on a late February trip to Great Britain, but she’s now in critical condition in a containment unit at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Her father and brother have milder symptoms and are self-quarantined at home.

“The virus is very real,” Ricketts said at a Capitol news conference. “This is not something that’s been made up. We need people to take it very seriously.”

Schools in Fremont announced they would close for the rest of the week after state officials learned the infected woman had attended a Special Olympics basketball tournament in town after she returned to the U.S.

Ricketts urged the public to focus on preventative measures, such as good hygiene and keeping people who have been exposed at home.

Meanwhile, at the Nebraska Capitol, Speaker of the Legislature Jim Scheer urged lawmakers to have contingency plans in case they or their staffs are forced to remain at home, and he advised lawmakers not to shake hands. He said officials will formally brief lawmakers Tuesday morning.

“If you start to feel ill during the day, please leave,” Scheer said.

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