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Coronavirus (COVID-19)

This guide provides resources regarding the COVID-19 Coronavirus Disease. More content will be added as information and resources become available.


Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.  

Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.  Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans. 

New Coronavirus Disease Officially Named COVID-19 By The World Health Organization

The new coronavirus disease that was first identified in Wuhan has received an official name from the World Health Organization:  "COVID-19."

"COVI" comes from coronavirus. The "D" stands for disease. The 19 represents 2019, the year the virus was first identified, in December.

The name will apply for the "entire spectrum" of cases, from mild to severe, according to a WHO spokesperson.

World Health Organization

Additional Information

Current understanding about how the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) spreads is largely based on what is known about similar coronaviruses. COVID-19 is a new disease and there is more to learn about how it spreads, the severity of illness it causes, and to what extent it may spread in the United States.

Person-to-person spread

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Spread from contact with infected surfaces or objects

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Can someone spread the virus without being sick?

  • People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).
  • Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

How easily does the virus spread?

How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained.

The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in some affected geographic areas. Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases.

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure*:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Call your healthcare professional if you develop symptoms, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or if you have recently traveled from an area with widespread or ongoing community spread of COVID-19.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for 2019-nCoV infection. People infected with 2019-nCoV should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. For severe cases, treatment should include care to support vital organ functions.

People who think they may have been exposed to 2019-nCoV should contact your healthcare provider immediately.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Data sources: WHO, CDC, ECDC

Misinformation on the coronavirus (COVID-19) death toll is spreading. Here are the facts:

Claim: ‘Face masks don’t work’

Wearing a face mask is certainly not an iron-clad guarantee that you won’t get sick – viruses can also transmit through the eyes and tiny viral particles, known as aerosols, can penetrate masks. However, masks are effective at capturing droplets, which is a main transmission route of coronavirus, and some studies have estimated a roughly fivefold protection versus no barrier alone (although others have found lower levels of effectiveness).

If you are likely to be in close contact with someone infected, a mask cuts the chance of the disease being passed on. If you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, or have been diagnosed, wearing a mask can also protect others. So masks are crucial for health and social care workers looking after patients and are also recommended for family members who need to care for someone who is ill – ideally both the patient and caregiver should have a mask.

However, masks will probably make little difference if you’re just walking around town or taking a bus so there is no need to bulk-buy a huge supply.

Claim: ‘It is mutating into a more deadly strain’

All viruses accumulate mutations over time and the virus that causes Covid-19 is no different. How widespread different strains of a virus become depends on natural selection – the versions that can propagate quickest and replicate effectively in the body will be the most “successful”. This doesn’t necessarily mean most dangerous for people though, as viruses that kill people rapidly or make them so sick that they are incapacitated may be less likely to be transmitted.

Genetic analysis by Chinese scientists of 103 samples of the virus, taken from patients in Wuhan and other cities, suggests that early on two main strains emerged, designated L and S. Although the L strain appeared to be more prevalent than the S strain (about 70% of the samples belonged to the former), the S branch of the virus was found to be the ancestral version.

The team behind this research suggested that this may indicate the L strain is more “aggressive”, either transmitting more easily or replicating faster inside the body. However, this theory is speculative at this stage – there haven’t yet been direct comparisons to see whether people who catch one version of the virus are more likely to pass it on or suffer more severe symptoms.

Claim: ‘It is no more dangerous than winter flu’

Many individuals who get coronavirus will experience nothing worse than seasonal flu symptoms, but the overall profile of the disease, including its mortality rate, looks more serious. At the start of an outbreak the apparent mortality rate can be an overestimate if a lot of mild cases are being missed. But Bruce Aylward, a WHO expert, who led an international mission to China to learn about the virus and the country’s response, said this has not been the case with Covid-19. The evidence did not suggest that we were only seeing the tip of the iceberg. If borne out by further testing, this could mean that current estimates of a roughly 1% fatality rate are accurate. This would make Covid-19 about 10 times more deadly than seasonal flu, which is estimated to kill between 290,000 and 650,000 people a year globally.

Claim: ‘It only kills the elderly, so younger people can relax’

Most people who are not elderly and do not have underlying health conditions will not become critically ill from Covid-19. But the illness still has a higher chance of leading to serious respiratory symptoms than seasonal flu and there are other at-risk groups – health workers, for instance, are more vulnerable because they are likely to have higher exposure to the virus. The actions that young, healthy people take, including reporting symptoms and following quarantine instructions, will have an important role in protecting the most vulnerable in society and in shaping the overall trajectory of the outbreak.

Claim: ‘You need to be with an infected person for 10 minutes’

For flu, some hospital guidelines define exposure as being within six feet of an infected person who sneezes or coughs for 10 minutes or longer. However, it is possible to be infected with shorter interactions or even by picking the virus up from contaminated surfaces, although this is thought to be a less common route of transmission.

Claim: ‘A vaccine could be ready within a few months’

Scientists were quick out of the gates in beginning development of a vaccine for the new coronavirus, helped by the early release of the genetic sequence by Chinese researchers. The development of a viable baccine continues apace, with several teams now testing candidates in animal experiments. However, the incremental trials required before a commercial vaccine could be rolled out are still a lengthy undertaking – and an essential one to ensure that even rare side-effects are spotted. A commercially available vaccine within a year would be quick.’

The Guardian

Department of State Safety and Security Alerts:

Warning Level 3, Avoid Nonessential Travel

Updated March 18, 2020

*CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to Malaysia.

*CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to the specified countries in Europe (see list). Those countries include:

*Austria                                                      *Luxembourg                                            

*Belgium                                                    *Malta

*Czech Republic                                        *Netherlands

*Denmark                                                   *Norway

*Estonia                                                      *Poland

*Finland                                                      *Portugal

*France                                                       *Slovakia                                               

*Germany                                                    *Slovenia                                                        

*Greece                                                       *Spain                                            

*Hungary                                                     *Sweden                                               

*Iceland                                                       *Switzerland                                                      

*Italy                                                            *Monoco                                                           

*Latvia                                                         *San Marino                                       

*Leichtenstein                                             *Vatican City                                             


*Because the United Kingdom shares an open border with the Republic of Ireland (Ireland), CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to all countries in the United Kingdom and also Ireland.*CDC recommends that travelers defer all cruise travel worldwide.

*CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to South Korea.

*CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to Iran.

*CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China.


Centers for Disease Control

Updated July 1, 2020

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services and its partners continue to track the unfolding outbreak of respiratory illness caused by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and anticipate its impact on Nebraska and its health care system. 

Nebraska Case Information

  • Total number of positive cases – 19,177
  • Cases that tested negative – 161,431
  1. All returning travelers, from any international or domestic location, should assume that COVID-19 disease is present at the locations they have visited and traveled through.
  2. All returning travelers, from any international or domestic location, should limit public interactions, practice strict social distancing, and self-monitor for symptoms.


According to DHHS, there have been 274 deaths in Nebraska related to COVID-19. 

Covid-19 spreads mainly through close contact from person to person. The virus travels through the droplets a person produces when talking or coughing, An individual does not need to feel sick or show symptoms to spread the submicroscopic virus. Close contact means within about six feet

Community transmission of COVID-19 has been identified in several areas of the state. Community transmission is when people have COVID-19 but public health officials are unable to identify how or where they became infected.

Department of Health and Human Services


At the Douglas County Health Department there's a hotline to answer your questions, as the CDC provides updates. The number is 402-444-3400. Questions can be answered in English and Spanish. For questions that are beyond the volunteer’s knowledge, there is an expert on site at the call center.

The Health Department is also planning for all possible situations.

NET Nebraska


COVID-19 Closed Schools: When Should They Reopen?

To slow the spread of Covid-19, governors in 46 states have closed more than 91,000 U.S. public and private schools, affecting more than 50 million school students. Most of the closures are currently scheduled to last for only two to three weeks.  As those deadlines approach, governors now confront the difficult questions of whether to reopen schools, and if so, when?

There were three main reasons governors choose short-term closures. First, it took advantage of the spring break days already built into many school calendars. Second, guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended 14 day closures in part because of studies suggesting the Covid-19 incubation period is 14 days. Third, it mandated social distancing while giving state leaders, local health officials, and superintendents the necessary time and space to evaluate the precautions.

With end dates to short-term closures fast approaching, there is little clarity about the conditions and factors that should trigger the reopening of schools. The CDC website simply states that federal health officials are “currently working on additional guidance to help schools determine when and how to re-open in an orderly manner.” As a result, we’re likely to see many states extend school closures for another two weeks or to the end of April. Kansas and Virginia have already announced that schools will remain closed for the rest of the academic year.


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