"We think COVID-19 is in our community."

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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - Central District Health department Director Teresa Anderson Friday said that 19 patients have been tested for COVID-19. The department covers Hall, Hamilton and Merrick counties. She said that 15 of those tests came back negative and four were pending. Anderson said, "We think COVID-19 is in our community."

The Central District Health Department director said Friday that she thinks coronavirus is in the community. Photo courtesy: MGN.

At a Friday press conference, Anderson and other Grand Island health professionals explained what they're doing to meet the challenge that COVID-19 presents and to "flatten the curve" of the virus

Grand Island doctor Sara Graybill said that patients in Grand Island may have to wait for appointments or have them done by tele-conference. She said, "The only medicine for this is social distancing."

CHI Health CEO Scott Frankforter said that St. Francis Medical Center was good on supplies and staffing at this point. The hospital has cancelled all public gatherings, limited patient visits to two persons over 19 years old and taken other steps to limit traffic in the hospital.

Dr. Nate Murdoch said that COVID-19 is a "serious situation." But he also pointed to countries including Singapore and Taiwan as examples of how social distancing has been a succesful strategy.

Dr. Libby Crockett said her clinic has been restructuring how their laboratories screen samples to facilitate better testing. Crockett also said that Nebraska has a well developed public health system, which has been helpful in this situation. Crockett, who treats pregnant women, said there is no evidence to date that the virus can be passed to a baby by her pregnant mother.