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Child is Nebraska's 14th confirmed case of coronavirus; state of emergency declared
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Child is Nebraska's 14th confirmed case of coronavirus; state of emergency declared

Nebraska has its first confirmed case of the coronavirus involving a child.

The Douglas County Health Department said Friday afternoon that the child — the state's 14th confirmed case — is a family member of an Omaha woman in her 40s who tested positive after traveling to California and Nevada.

Five other family members tested positive earlier this week. All are in self-quarantine.

Gov. Pete Ricketts on Friday declared a state of emergency surrounding the coronavirus in Nebraska, a declaration allowing provisions of state law to be suspended to aid in the state's response, such as hauling requirements for truckers delivering food products to grocery stores.

The state has not moved to close schools statewide or ban large public gatherings.

Earlier Friday, health officials in Omaha confirmed two additional travel-related coronavirus cases — a man in his 50s and a woman in her 60s.

The man is an employee of Mutual of Omaha, which closed down its headquarters building Friday. Company spokesman Jim Nolan said the employee began feeling sick Thursday and sought medical attention.

"It's our understanding this morning that this individual tested positive for coronavirus," Nolan said.

He said the employee worked in a relatively isolated area and employees who work in the vicinity were notified and told to self-monitor for signs of illness.

Nolan said the headquarters building at 33rd and Dodge streets was closed Friday "out of an abundance of caution" so it could receive additional cleaning. About 4,200 people work in the building.

He said the company has disaster plans in place, which include extensive work-from-home capabilities, so no interruption in operations was expected. All of the company's other Omaha-area offices remained open.

There have been 12 confirmed cases in Douglas County, one in Cass County and one in Knox County.

As many as three of those cases are being treated at the Nebraska Biocontainment Unit at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.

A 36-year-old Omaha woman, the state's first confirmed case, remains in critical condition, a Nebraska Medicine spokesperson said Friday. A 16-year-old boy who attends Crofton High School is in serious condition.

The hospital said one person from the region was admitted Thursday night to the biocontainment unit in fair condition. No other information was provided.

 

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Matt Lindberg is an award-winning journalist and graduate of the University of Kansas.

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