Washington County officials keeping close eye on COVID-19 cases tied to nursing home

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BLAIR, Neb. (WOWT) -- Blair and Washington County officials want area residents to know that they're keeping close watch on confirmed coronavirus cases in their health district, particularly those associated with a local nursing home.

Washington County officials give an update Thursday, March 26, 2020, in Blair on their response to COVID-19 in the county. (John Gutowski / WOWT)

In a a news conference Thursday morning, Terra Uhing with the local health department confirmed there were five COVID-19 cases in Washington County: two were travel-related, one was a healthcare worker at Carter House, and two were residents there.

One of the Carter House residents with the virus has been hospitalized, Uhing said.

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The health department believes the healthcare worker caught coronavirus at a community event — not necessarily in Washington County — and brought it into the facility, Uhing said.

Since it was the first nursing home outbreak in Nebraska, finding the source of the spread was important, Uhing said.

Carter House residents are now sequestered in their rooms: no eating or playing games together, etc. Family members can't enter the building, but can visit through the windows.

Residents are getting their temperatures taken daily, and staff are getting their temperatures checked as well.

Four EMTs are now self-quarantined because they weren’t wearing the proper personal protective equipment when they helped transport the Carter House resident to the hospital.

According to the EMA director, the EMTs weren’t wearing protective equipment because the resident wasn’t showing signs and symptoms at the time of transport. But once the test came back positive, the four were ordered to self-quarantine.

The EMTs are being monitored and checked on daily. So far none is showing symptoms of COVID-19.

The public is asked to listen to guidelines for the health and safety of the community.

"We know we sound like a broken record."

There are also cases in Saunders and Dodge counties, she said, and the health department fully expects the number of cases to rise.