Nebraska Confirms First COVID-19 Case

This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses.
March 6, 2020 - 3:01pm

Officials have confirmed the first case of the coronavirus disease COVID-19 in Nebraska. 


Nebraska state health officials report a 36 year old Omaha resident arrived at Methodist Hospital Thursday. She said she had traveled to England with her father where she began to feel feverish on February 24.

Returning home to Omaha on February 27, it was another six days before she decided to head to the emergency room. During a conference call for reporters, Dr. Robert Penn with Methodist Hospital said the woman showed signs of pneumonia, and the tests were ordered.

"We at that point in time took all the precautions because we were concerned about the possibility of COVID-19, so appropriate precautions for all healthcare workers," Penn said. 

When the test came back positive the decision was made to transfer her in a special isolation pod to the University of Nebraska secure biocontainment unit where one other patient remains after being brought here from out of state. The local patient is described as "seriously ill."

The next step for Nebraska public health officials: tracking who the patient had contact with and where she might visited when she returned to the state…from the time she got off the plane to when someone drove her to the emergency room. Dr. Gary Anthone is the State of Nebraska’s Chief Medical Officer.

"So if the patient is not able to give her own history then they'll be in contact with her close family members to get that information," Anthone said. "And then obviously, investigating any of the other people that have been involved in her health care up to this point." 

Until the contact investigation gets underway, the medical team would not speculate on how many people this COVID-19 carrier may come in contact with over the past ten days. That prompted Governor Pete Ricketts to double-down on his advice that Nebraskans pay attention should they acquire a fever or symptoms of a respiratory illness.

Nebraskans should take precautions to limit chances they will contract the virus and prepare for the possibility the community could see a broader impact on businesses, schools, and everyday activities. For NET News, I’m Bill Kelly

This story has been updated.

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