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Prevention and preparedness

How can I avoid getting COVID-19?

The best advice is to practice good hygiene and common-sense measures like you would with the seasonal flu. Those things include:

  1. Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds – hand sanitizer is a second option. Watch this example of how to properly wash your hands, or get the recipe to make your own hand sanitizer.
  2. Don’t touch your mouth, nose or eyes, especially with unwashed hands.
  3. Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  4. If you are sick, stay at home.
  5. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing – DON’T cough or sneeze into your hands. Wash your hands afterwards.
  6. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects in your home, car and workplace.
  7. If you are traveling overseas, make sure to follow CDC guidelines at

Do I need to buy masks or sanitizers?

Masks are not recommended as a method to prevent infection. Those who are ill will be asked to wear masks to prevent spreading of infection to others. Masks should otherwise only be used under direct recommendations from your doctor.

Hand sanitizer and surface sanitizers (or cleaning) wipes may be helpful to have on hand when immediate hand washing or soap and water are not available. Stockpiling is not advised as the entire community requires adequate supplies to minimize the spread of the infection. It should be noted that soap and water are effective for washing hands and high touch surfaces.

Should I cancel my planned trips?

Travel to areas with widespread infection may not be advised. Please check CDC and local guidance for travel recommendations and cancellations of events prior to travel.

Are kids or babies at risk?

Infants and young children may acquire COVID-19 infection, but overall children appear spared from significant disease related to infection.

Will schools have to close?

Schools may close when there are confirmed cases impacting the school. Some have closed to initiate a quarantine due to concern for high-risk exposures to those within the school. Please check with your local school district regarding their specific policies and protocols.

How is Nebraska tracking COVID-19?

State and local health departments are monitoring and tracking the situation in Nebraska.

What is public health doing to protect Nebraskans?

Public health services are closely monitoring the situation and are active in the evaluation and tracking of potential cases. Testing is currently available through the state and Nebraska Medicine/UNMC. Contingency plans are in place in the event cases occur in Nebraska.

What happens as cases are reported in Nebraska, or someone being monitored shows signs of COVID-19 infection?

State and local health authorities would determine if the patient can be monitored at home (for mild disease,) or if they need to go to a hospital for evaluation and medical treatment.

Are health systems prepared? Do they have enough masks and hospital beds for patients?

Great Plains Health plans and prepares for these types of events. We have been reviewing our organizational pandemic plan and meeting to address preparedness issues. Supplies and additional space for patients are at the top of our list of things we prepare for.

COVID-19 is dominating news cycles and social media. How worried should I be?

This situation is evolving and all persons are encouraged to keep track of events via reliable news sources – the CDC or World Health Organization, for example. Unfortunately, a lot of misinformation can be spread, causing unneeded anxiety. All persons should be taking steps to prevent the spread of common respiratory viruses – such as the flu – which will also help to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Having a personal or family preparedness plan is always a good idea – here are some household preparedness tips from the CDC.

Is it safe to travel to countries where COVID-19 cases have occurred?

The situation is evolving. Stay up-to-date with the CDC travel health notices related to this outbreak.

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