WAHOO – Saunders County has recorded its first death from COVID-19.

Last Friday, Three Rivers Public Health Department announced that a man in his 70s from Saunders County who had underlying health conditions died earlier in the week from the disease, which is caused by the novel coronavirus. No other details about the patient were released.

As of Monday, there have been 12 cases of COVID-19 reported in Saunders County. The last new case was announced May 8. The 12th case is a minor.

In the area covered by Three Rivers, there were 200 cases reported as of Monday, with 165 in Dodge County, 23 in Washington County and the remainder in Saunders County. There have been two deaths in the three-county area.

Across Nebraska, 100 deaths had been reported by Monday. The total number of positive COVID-19 tests in the state is 8,572.

Symptoms of COVID-19 have been expanded by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). They include fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, repeated muscle pain, headache, sore throat and loss of taste or smell.

However, recent studies show that a significant portion of people with COVID-19 lack symptoms, and those who eventually develop symptoms can pass the virus to others before showing symptoms, according to the CDC.

Public health officials emphasize that social distancing is crucial to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Maintaining six feet between people is the definition of social distancing.

Cloth face covers are not a replacement for social distancing, but are recommended by public health officials to be used in places where social distancing measures are hard to maintain, like grocery stores and pharmacies.

Gov. Pete Ricketts urges Nebraskans to follow the “Six Rules to Keep Nebraska Healthy,” which include staying home, socially distancing at work, shopping alone, helping kids social distance, helping seniors stay home and exercising daily.

The governor has also approved relaxing some of the Directed Health Measures in the state. As of Monday, restaurants were allowed to open their dining rooms with restrictions. Beauty salons, barbers, fitness centers and similar facilities were also given the green light to open, but also with restrictions. Regulations are also required to be in place for houses of worship, as they are now permitted to hold services.

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