With Friday’s announcement that Nebraska now has its first case of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, Gov. Pete Ricketts offered recommendations for Nebraskans on preparing for a coronavirus outbreak, including making sure to have two weeks’ worth of food and water at home.

“Like a snowstorm, Nebraskans should be planning in case they need to be at home for an extended period, and they should also plan in case schools close,” Ricketts said in a press release. “At the same time, I want to assure Nebraskans that state leaders and medical professionals across Nebraska are doing their utmost to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus on public health.”

Ricketts recommended that people check their prescription drugs to ensure a continuous supply.

The governor noted that the newly announced case is travel- related, and it’s important to remember that there isn’t evidence of COVID-19 spreading in Nebraska communities.

Practicing good health habits can help prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease and other respiratory infections, Ricketts said. These include:

  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Avoid close contact with those who are sick.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Dr. Mark Rupp, an infectious diseases physician with Nebraska Medicine, the clinical partner of the University of Nebraska Medical Center, also offers these tips:

Businesses and other workplaces

Begin to identify employees who need to report to work and those who can work from home. Also identify the telephone or computer technology that would allow for online rather than face-to-face meetings.

Consider making hand gel and sanitizing wipes available to employees and creating separation within workplaces. Virus-containing droplets are believed to be able to travel only about 6 feet.

Alcohol and bleach are believed to eliminate the virus on surfaces.

Plan ahead

Determine whether there’s a bedroom and bathroom in your home where you could care for an ill family member while keeping that person separate from the rest of the household.

In addition to the two weeks’ worth of food, water and prescription medications, have these staples on hand: over-the-counter medicines, hygiene items and food and medication for your pets.

A few “howevers”

Stocking up doesn’t mean going crazy. Don’t overbuy or hoard supplies.

Masks are best used on sick people to keep them from spreading infectious droplets.

Resources for individuals and families, schools, communities, businesses, health care facilities and first responders can be found at dhhs.ne.gov/coronavirus or cdc.gov/covid19. For information on building a readiness kit, go to ready.gov.

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