OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – The Douglas County Health Department said on Friday that 100 positive cases of COVID-19 – most of them the UK variant – can be traced back to a daycare center in northwestern Omaha; and that a possible second outbreak related to “an event” is being investigated.
DCHD said more than half of Rosewood Academy daycare and kindergarten staff and “attendees” had been affected by the outbreak of variant B.1.1.7, and that contact tracing investigations confirmed that the outbreak originated in daycare. .
Justin Frederick, supervisor of communicable disease epidemiology for Douglas County, said officials were working to determine if another possible cluster of positive cases was related to the UK variant confirmed at daycare. As the investigation is still ongoing, he was unable to specify anything more about the possible second potential outbreak other than to say that the setting was ‘an event’.
The health department said the outbreak is of particular concern because the UK variant spreads more easily and children appear to be more prone to contracting it, noting that several cases of the variant have been confirmed in Douglas County.
“It is critical that childcare providers are vaccinated,” said health director Dr. Adi Pour. “Childcare 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.
DCDC repeatedly underscored on Friday the need to continue with those preventive measures that health and government officials have highlighted during the pandemic, urging everyone to get the COVID-19 vaccination when they qualify.
“We really need to stress the importance of vaccinating childcare workers. Now is not the time to lower your guard, ”said DCHD spokesperson Phill Rooney, noting that walk-ins eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination 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 saw last summer, underscoring the importance of focusing on prevention.
“We really need to get those people into those positions that are so vitally important to get them vaccinated. The British variant is definitely there and makes its presence known, ”he said.
DCHD reminds everyone – especially those who work with children – to keep up with the basics of COVID-19 prevention: wash hands, wear masks “when you are around unfamiliar people and in this case at daycare centers.” The health department also stressed that “quarantine and isolation procedures must be followed”.
Just hold up your mask; wash your hands. And if you’re sick, stay home – and get the vaccine at the earliest opportunity, ”said Rooney.
One of three Rosewood Academy locations in Omaha, the location near 158th and Fort Street, was marked “temporarily closed” on Google Maps Friday afternoon.
Frederick said Rosewood Academy could open as soon as possible on Monday, if they wish, after completing their required 10-day quarantine period. He said the day care center has cooperated in the health department’s investigation and both entities have worked together to notify those who were or could be infected.
Rosewood Academy issued a statement Friday afternoon, noting that the outbreak was only confined to the northwest Omaha site, which had been closed since March 18. Even before that, the daycare “ went beyond the requirements of public health experts and sent children home if they showed a fever above 99 degrees, ” the release states, in contrast to the 100.4-degree threshold 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 variant in the United Kingdom (UK) at Rosewood Academy is consistent with wherever it is – it spreads more easily and children are more sensitive to it. Prevention procedures and protocols are the same as other variants of the virus, using thorough screening processes, hand washing and cleaning procedures with staff, children and families.
Before Rosewood Academy closed our Northwest location on March 18, it went beyond public health expert requirements and sent children home if they showed a fever above 99 degrees, instead of the 100.4 requirement. One problem with the highly transmissible UK 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 vigilant practices, all three Rosewood Academy Childcare and Preschool locations remained open uninterruptedly until the UK variant caused many of the COVID-19 infections involving staff and children in our northwest were involved. place. The outbreak is limited to one location.
Rosewood Academy Childcare and Preschool continues to work closely and proactively with the Douglas County Health Department and families. Families and staff will receive 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 meet the quarantine requirements as outlined by the Douglas County Health Department after each positive test result, which has been the procedure since the arrival of the virus. Rosewood Academy Childcare and Preschool will continue to work closely and work with the Douglas County Health Department to monitor this situation and encourage families and staff to get the vaccine as soon as possible. “
Rooney said it is not yet known exactly how the British variant arrived in Douglas County, but travel often is how that happens.
“There’s a saying we have with the health department: that the next outbreak or pandemic is just a plane ride away,” he said. “People are moving all over the world, all over the country, which is great – but there are some things we need to be aware of.”
This is a story in progress. Stay with 6 News for updates.
Clarification: An earlier version of this story indicated that all cases related to Rosewood Academy had been confirmed as the UK variant, while some cases cannot be confirmed as such, a DCHD spokesperson said.
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