Severity: Warning Alert

Transportation: Officials in Nebraska, US, issue new Directed Health Measures, April 10, due to COVID-19 activity. Business, transport disruptions possible.

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Omaha, Nebraska
  • Lincoln, Nebraska
  • North Platte, Nebraska
  • Scottsbluff, Nebraska
  • Grand Island, Nebraska

This alert began 10 Apr 2020 23:28 GMT and is scheduled to expire 11 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Event: COVID-19 Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nebraska (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least May 11
  • Impact: Transport and business disruptions

Summary
On April 10 the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) issued an updated set of directed health measures as part of the state's efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The new regulation, which follows an April 9 proclamation by Governor Pete Ricketts urging residents to stay at home through April 30, includes the following mandates:

  • Ban on gatherings of more than 10 persons
  • Food and beverage sales at restaurants, bars, taverns, private clubs, and any dine-in establishments restricted to carryout, delivery, or drive-through service only
  • Gyms and fitness clubs must ensure social distancing of 2 meters (6 feet) between patrons;
  • Ban on elective dental and medical surgeries
  • Mandatory 14-day home quarantine for persons testing positive for COVID-19 or exhibiting symptoms of the disease
  • Suspension of in-person instruction and extracurricular activities at all schools through May 31
  • Closure of indoor entertainment venues, as well as beauty/nail parlors, hair salons, barbershops, massage therapy services, tattoo parlors, and other businesses that cannot comply with social distancing guidelines through April 30
  • Suspension of all organized team sporting events through May 31


Except where otherwise noted above, the individual measures are set to expire on different dates between April 30 and May 11 across various counties within the state. Officials could extend or otherwise amend the orders with little to no advance notice depending on the disease activity in the coming weeks.

Background and Analysis
The measures taken by Nebraskan authorities are much less restrictive than actions adopted by other state governments in the US and globally in recent weeks in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Strictly comply with the directed health measures if operating in Nebraska. Consider allowing a liberal telecommuting policy, if possible; plan accordingly for increased absenteeism among employees who are the parents or guardians of school-aged children.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Resources
WHO coronavirus knowledge base: www.who.int

State of Nebraska - COVID-19 Updates: dhhs.ne.gov

Text of Nebraska DHHS Directed Health Measures: dhhs.ne.gov (Dropbox)