COVID-19 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 wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel

Do I need to buy masks or sanitizers?

Maintaining six feet away from others is critical to slowing the spread of the virus. Stay at home as much as possible. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 

If you have to go out in public, the CDC advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus. The face covering is meant to protect other people in case you are infected. Cloth face coverings can be made at home from household items. Learn how to make a mask at home

The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. These are critical supplies that must be reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders. 

Hand sanitizer and surface sanitizers (or cleaning wipes) are helpful to have when washing your hands with soap and water is not an option. Stockpiling is not advised because everyone in our community needs access to these supplies to minimize the spread of COVID-19. Soap and water can also be used to clean high touch surfaces. 

Should I cancel my planned trips?

Yes. Avoid all non-essential travel. 

What’s the risk to Nebraskans? 

Currently, we estimate relatively low risk to people living in this region. Nebraska Medicine health centers, Immediate Care Clinics, emergency rooms, and the UNL and UNO campus health clinics are screening patients to promptly identify and evaluate any suspected cases. Travelers to certain parts of the world with large outbreaks may have a higher risk. 

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. 

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?  

Nebraska Medicine 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.