11th COVID-19 Case Diagnosed in Nebraska; 7 More Quarantined as Metro Schools, Universities Close

OMAHA – Schools and events are responding to the viral outbreak with closures and postponements, even as a new case of COVID-19 is diagnosed in a Cass county man.

Officials say the newest case is a man in his 50s, who tested positive for the new coronavirus yesterday, making him the 11th known case in Nebraska. The man recently flew back to Nebraska from Minnesota on the same connecting flight as the woman who was Nebraska’s first case of COVID-19, the 36-year-old special needs woman who became infected in the UK.

Officials say the man had been self-isolating and monitoring for symptoms at his home since last Saturday.

The original Nebraska case is still being treated in the biocontainment unit, and remains in critical condition. The 16-year-old from Crofton, NE remains in serious condition. The UNMC quarantine unit also welcomed seven new arrivals Wednesday night.

Elkhorn Public Schools, Millard Public Schools and Papillion La Vista Community Schools join the list of closed schools, as they all announced Thursday that classes are canceled for Friday before the weeklong spring break next week. They will use the time to clean and sanitize buildings and equipment, and prepare to enter “eLearning mode,” if it becomes necessary. Bellevue Public Schools also announced its buildings will be closed completely today, through the spring break week that ends March 22. All Bellevue Public School activities will also be closed during that time.

Several Universities are also suspending face-to-face classes. All four University of Nebraska campuses and Creighton University have announced plans to shift to online classes after their spring breaks, in an effort to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the University of Nebraska at Omaha announced similar plans Thursday, with both schools extending their spring breaks starting next week through March 29. Classes will then resume remotely on March 30 for the remainder of the semester.

The University of Nebraska at Kearney will continue classes as usual next week before starting spring break, then resuming classes online March 30.

Creighton University says it will suspend in-person classes next week and resume them on April 13.

Experts say these cancellations and shifts away from large gatherings are necessary to keep the number of US cases low, and to make sure that our hospitals and health systems do not become overwhelmed by the number of cases, as has happened in other countries like Italy. “In order to lessen the impact of COVID-19 on the Omaha community and the region, it is important to avoid large crowds and take other preventive measures now,” said the University of Nebraska Medical Center in a press release. Similar guidance has also been given by the CDC.

Known cases in the U.S. have reached about 1,325, with 38 deaths. Worldwide, cases stand at nearly 128,000 in 116 countries, with nearly 4,720 deaths.