Sen. Matt Williams

Sen. Matt Williams

Greetings District 36. It’s been a busy week at the Legislature. We continue with a full-day session debating many issues. This week, Senators were briefed by officials from the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) about the coronavirus called “COVID-19”.

COVID-19 is a new strain of a coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a group of common viruses found around the world that infects animals and sometimes humans. Coronaviruses can cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to SARS and MERS. Those with pre-existing conditions and the elderly are especially prone to severe symptoms from COVID-19.

Typically, coronaviruses cause respiratory illness and symptoms range from mild to severe. However, COVID-19 is causing difficulty because humans do not have any immunity to the virus, and there is no developed vaccine. UNMC doctors and scientists are working on creating a vaccine, and estimate it should be ready in 12-18 months.

Our public health officials are taking a “contain and mitigate” approach to combat the spread of the virus. Federal, state, and local health departments are actively monitoring the situation and are prepared to act if necessary. This includes the possibility of cancelling large gatherings. There are several things you can do at home and at work to help keep yourself and others healthy. First, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Second, if you are feeling ill, stay home. If someone in your house is ill, stay home as well. Third, avoid touching areas around your eyes, nose, and mouth. Finally, make sure to clean surfaces you use or touch often, such as doorknobs, keyboards, and tables, with a disinfecting spray or wipe.

In Nebraska, we are especially lucky to have the state-of-the-art Nebraska Biocontainment Unit at UNMC. Just like UNMC was called upon to lead the fight against the Ebola Virus, the Biocontainment Unit is the leading treatment center for those infected with COVID-19. They are global frontrunners in combating infectious diseases and outbreaks of this kind. UNMC doctors truly are the right people, at the right place, at the right time in combating COVID-19.

If you have questions, start by contacting your local health department. In District 36, Two Rivers Public Health Department covers Buffalo and Dawson County, and their phone number is 308-346-5795. Loup Basin Public Health Department covers Custer County, and their phone number is 308-995-4778. For updates on the State’s response to the virus, visit: nebraskamed.com/covid.

On a lighter note, congratulations to the Pleasanton Girls Basketball Team on their State Championship! They were the only team in the state to complete a perfect season. District 36 is proud of you!

As always, feel free to contact me anytime at (402) 471-2642 or mwilliams@leg.ne.gov. Thanks again for your continued support.

Matt