‘Significant’ number of 100 COVID-19 cases linked to Omaha daycare confirmed as UK variant

OMAHA, Nebraska (WOWT) – The Douglas County Health Department said on Friday that more than 100 positive COVID-19 cases – a “significant” number of them the UK variant – have been traced to a northwestern nursery. from Omaha; and that a possible second outbreak linked to “an event” is being investigated.

DCHD said that more than half of Rosewood Academy’s preschool and child care staff and “assistants” had been affected by the variant B.1.1.7 outbreak, and contact tracing investigations confirmed that the outbreak it had originated in the nursery.

Justin Frederick, Douglas County Communicable Disease Epidemiology Supervisor, said officials were working to determine if another possible cluster of positive cases was linked to the UK variant confirmed in the nursery. As the investigation is still ongoing, he was unable to specify anything else about the possible second potential outbreak other than saying that the setting was “an event.”

The health department said the outbreak is of particular concern because the UK variant spreads more easily and because children appear to be more susceptible to contracting it, noting that several cases of the variant have been confirmed in Douglas County.

“It is crucial that child care providers get vaccinated,” said Health Director Dr. Adi Pour. “Child care providers are eligible for the vaccine and can easily make an appointment on the DCHD website.”

Frederick said the outbreak is not unique to Rosewood; it can happen in any type of school.

On Friday, DCHD repeatedly underscored the need to continue those preventative measures that government and health officials have been emphasizing during the pandemic, urging everyone to receive the COVID-19 vaccine when eligible.

“We really need to emphasize the importance of child care workers getting vaccinated. This is not the time to let our guard down, ”said DCHD spokesman Phill Rooney, noting that walk-ins who qualify for a COVID-19 vaccine are welcome at Saturday’s clinic at Girls Inc.

He said the number of positive cases in the community is similar to the levels the area had last summer, underscoring the importance of focusing on prevention.

“We really need those people in those positions that are vital to mark them vaccinated. The British variant is definitely here and making its presence known, ”he said.

DCHD reminds everyone, especially those who work with children, to stay up-to-date with the basics of COVID-19 prevention: wash hands, wear masks “whenever you are around unfamiliar people and in this case in nurseries “. The health department also stressed that “quarantine and isolation procedures must be followed.”

“Just keep your mask; Wash your hands. And if you’re sick, stay home and get vaccinated at the earliest opportunity, ”Rooney said.

One of three Rosewood Academy locations in Omaha, the location near 158th and Fort streets was listed as “temporarily closed” on Google Maps Friday afternoon.

Frederick said Rosewood Academy could open as early as Monday, if they so choose, after they have completed the required 10-day quarantine period. He said the daycare has cooperated with the health department’s investigation and that the two entities worked together to notify those who were or could be infected.

Rosewood Academy issued a statement Friday afternoon, noting that the outbreak had been contained only at the Northwest Omaha location, which had been closed since March 18. Even before that, the nursery had gone “beyond the requirements of public health experts and sent children home if they had a fever above 99 degrees,” the statement states, as opposed to the threshold of 100.4 degrees. recommended by the CDC.

“The health and safety of children, families and staff are the top priority at Rosewood Academy Childcare and Preschool. The spread of the UK (UK) variant at Rosewood Academy aligns with wherever it is present – it spreads more easily and children are more susceptible to it. Procedures and protocols for prevention are the same as for other variants of the virus, using comprehensive screening processes, hand washing and cleaning procedures with staff members, children, and families.

Before closing our Northwest location on March 18, Rosewood Academy went beyond the requirements of public health experts and sent children home if they had a fever greater than 99 degrees, instead of the 100 requirement. Four. One difficulty with the highly transmissible British variant is that children are often asymptomatic during daily temperature screening procedures.

For more than a year of navigating the pandemic, due to strict procedures and surveillance practices, all three Rosewood Academy preschool and childcare locations remained open without interruption until the UK variant caused many of the COVID-19 infections. involving staff members and children in our Northwest. Location. The outbreak has been limited to one location.

Rosewood Academy Preschool and Child Care continues to work closely and proactively with the Douglas County Health Department and families. Families and staff are receiving ongoing communication and instruction on quarantine requirements before returning to Rosewood Academy and Preschool. Staff members are expected to continue to report COVID symptoms and must adhere to the quarantine requirements outlined by the Douglas County Health Department following any positive test results, which has always been the procedure since the arrival of the virus. . Rosewood Academy Preschool and Child Care will continue to work closely and cooperate with the Douglas County Health Department to monitor this situation and encourage families and staff to get vaccinated as quickly as possible. “

Rooney said exactly how the UK variant got to Douglas County is not yet known, but travel is often the way that happens.

“There is a saying we have with the health department: that the next outbreak or the next pandemic is just a plane ride away,” he said. “People move all over the world, all over the country, and that’s great, but there are some things that we need to be aware of.”

Clarification: An earlier version of this story indicated that all cases linked to Rosewood Academy had been confirmed as the UK variant, when some of the cases cannot be confirmed as such, according to a DCHD spokesperson.

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