Great Plains Health takes coronavirus precautions

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NORTH PLATTE, Neb. With confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Nebraska, Great Plains Health is taking extra precautions.

Great Plains Health is asking patients who check-in at the Emergency Room to wear a mask if they are experiencing cold or flu symptoms. (Source: Jace Barraclough/KNOP)

According to Emergency Care Physician Dr. James Smith, they have tested almost every respiratory case at the hospital for the COVID-19 coronavirus and have only had one person they had to quarantine for further testing.

'We put the patient in one of our negative pressure rooms. We did a respiratory panel and it ended up being something else and not coronavirus," said Dr. Smith.

"We worked all day with our local health department. Eventually the risks were very very low that it was actually a coronavirus. But, until we knew that we promised we'd take every precaution we need in order to protect our patients and our staff."

Executive Director of the West Central District Health Department Shannon Vanderheiden said they have been in regular contact with health departments at the local and national level.

"As a local health department we have regular conversations with our state partners on how we best equip ourselves in the event that we have a case we're dealing with," said Vandeheiden.

"We also get regular updates from the CDC, because we know with any novel disease things constantly change and they change very quickly. To make sure we're prepared to protect our community and our community members, we ensure we have those regular updates from the CDC and our state partners."

The symptoms of the COVID-19 are similar to the cold or flu viruses.

"It starts off with cold and cough symptoms, fever and unfortunately this strain of virus causes an intense inflammatory reaction within the lungs that we call ARDS, Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome. It scars and vibrioses and basically stops the lungs from being able to move oxygen back and forth. That's how these folks die," said Dr. Smith.

Aside from wearing a mask, other ways you can avoid getting ill are fairly simple.

"Just doing due diligence on protecting yourself from illness," said Vanderheiden. "Staying home if you're sick and washing your hands. They are the most critical piece to staying healthy."