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Lancaster County Jail reports first case of COVID-19 in inmate population; 76 new COVID-19 cases reported in Lincoln

Five new cases of Covid-19 brings the panhandles total up to 73. (source:KNEP)
Five new cases of Covid-19 brings the panhandles total up to 73. (source:KNEP)
Published: May. 9, 2020 at 4:57 PM CDT
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The Lancaster County Department of Corrections reported its first known case of COVID-19 within the facility. The individual who tested positive was recently lodged into the facility and has had no contact with the general inmate population. This is currently the only case of COVID-19 among staff or inmates at the facility. Corrections staff is working directly with the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department and the jail’s medical provider to best address the issue.

The inmate tested positive on Friday, May 8, 2020, after reporting symptoms of the virus. The inmate is currently in isolation. The Lancaster County Jail has a complete pandemic plan and facility space in which to successfully quarantine new lodges and isolate inmates who become ill. Corrections Director Brad Johnson noted, “We worked with the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department to complete the contact tracing that needs to be done related to this individual and we are in the process of contacting anyone whom we know came into significant contact with this inmate.”

The inmate is currently being treated in the infirmary unit of the facility and is experiencing mild symptoms. The jail staff is currently equipped with the appropriate personal protective equipment necessary to care for the individual. The jail’s pandemic plan lays out clear procedures for appropriate, compassionate care of inmates with the minimum amount of exposure to jail staff or other inmates. “The wellbeing of our staff and the inmates entrusted to our care is one of our top priorities. Working with the county health department and our medical provider, we have developed a plan for the COVID-19 pandemic that utilizes best practices as we strive to keep everyone safe,” said Corrections Director Johnson. The inmate will continue to be isolated and monitored until cleared by a medical authority. The Lancaster County Department of Corrections has licensed professional medical personnel contracted and available in the facility.

Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird and the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department announced that 76 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Lancaster County in the last 24 hours, the highest number reported in a single day in the community. The local total of cases is now 606. The dashboard at COVID19.lincoln.ne.gov summarizes the Lancaster County COVID-19 data.

“With half of our cases reported in the last seven days, it is clear that Lincoln has not yet reached its peak,” said Pat Lopez, Interim Director of LLCHD. “Although restrictions will be eased starting Monday, it has never been more important to be vigilant and to continue to take measures to protect yourself and others. All of us are at risk of contracting the virus anytime we are in public with other people.”

Health officials encourage residents to continue to stay home if possible, to wear face coverings, and to wash their hands frequently. Those at risk of complications from COVID-19 should continue to stay away from others. More information is available at COVID19.lincoln.ne.gov at the “How to Help” tab.

Officials also urge those with symptoms of COVID-19 to get tested. Symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath, repeated shaking with chills, repeated muscle pain, headache, sore throat or new loss of taste or smell.

Those who experience these symptoms are urged to access drive-through testing offered by Bryan Health and CHI Health St. Elizabeth. Residents begin this process with a free online risk assessment available at BryanHealth.com and CHIHealth.com.

If testing is recommended, individuals will be given an order and referred to one of the testing sites. Only those with an order and referral from Bryan Health or CHI Health St. Elizabeth, or an order from their doctor are permitted at the drive-through sites. Those who need assistance may contact the Health Department at 402-441-8006.

The latest information on local coronavirus response is available at COVID19.lincoln.ne.gov. LLCHD has established a hotline at 402-441-8006 for questions on COVID-19.