Coronavirus

An illustration of coronaviruses morphology created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Washington County has its first cases of COVID-19, the Three Rivers Public Health Department confirmed Monday afternoon.

A man and a woman in their 60s tested positive for the illness. The couple, who agreed to talk with the Enterprise if they were not identified, said they traveled to New York in early March. They returned March 13 and began feeling ill March 17.

The Washington County residents have been self-isolating at home since March 18, according to the health department. Read more about the couple in Friday's Enterprise.

Contact investigations were completed and those identified as close contacts were notified. All identified close contacts will self-quarantine and be actively monitored twice daily by public health officials for fever and respiratory symptoms.

Community exposures may have occurred at the following times and locations and are considered low risk:

• Family Fare. 238 8th St., Blair, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. March 15.

• DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, 1434 316th Lane, Missouri Valley, Iowa, 1:30 to 3 p.m. March 16.

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms — a fever, cough, fatigue and sore throat — or develop symptoms are asked to call their health care provider and notify them of any potential exposure to a confirmed case of the novel coronavirus. Those feeling sick should call ahead before going to a medical provider or an emergency room.

Blair Mayor Rich Hansen thanked residents and businesses for their cooperation in taking the Directed Health Measure (DHM), imposed by Gov. Pete Ricketts on Thursday, seriously.

"Now, with the first two official cases of COVID-19 in Washington County, it is off utmost importance that everyone adheres to the DHMs and other directives of the Three Rivers Public Health Department," Hansen said. "Although we are not aware of any cases directly in Blair at this time, it is only a matter of time before someone in the community is infected."

Hansen encouraged residents to continue to support the business community by purchasing carryout or delivery. However, he also cautioned residents and asked them to limit nonessential trips to stores and businesses.

"Make sure at all times to practice good social distancing. Wash hands often and when washing is not viable use sanitizing wipes and sanitizers with at least 60 percent alcohol," he said. "We encourage you to monitor the Three Rivers Public Health Department website for the latest updates on the COVID-19 pandemic."

The health department's website is threeriverspublichealth.org. A link is also available on the city's website blairnebraska.org.

Blair City offices remain closed to the public, but staff continues to work and can assist citizens that need permits, inspections, zoning information, information on utilities as well as other needs.

Anyone with questions should contact city hall at 402-426-4191. The office is open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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