Library Services Amid COVID-19 FAQ

We are answering reference questions Monday through Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm and provide information to the best of our ability:

Your Virtual Library is OPEN.

Please visit https://www.ci.north-platte.ne.us/library/eresources/ or click the eResources button on the left menu.

Specific Health or Government Information Related to COVID-19, please see https://www.ci.north-platte.ne.us/coronavirus/

Librarian COVID-19 Resources:

Current status at North Platte Public Library
We are now tracking our current status by questions in the STATUS Section of this FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Index

  1. Status and Library Public Access (Basic)
  2. Fines / Fees and Circulation Related
  3. Fun Things We Are Doing for You During This Crisis
  4. Online and Virtual Services – How To Videos and Other Helps
  5. Public Groups, Meetings, and Programming
  6. Where to Go in Our Community for Various Services

*** STATUS AND LIBRARY PUBLIC ACCESS (BASIC) ***

When will you re-open? ^

The doors and book drop are locked and we closed at 9:00 am on Wednesday, March 18, 2020.

We do not have a timeline for re-opening. All circulation services, including computer access, library programming, and group meetings like the tax assistance group, checking materials in or out are all suspended until further notice.

We have been meeting with the West Central District Health Department (WCDHD). We are NOT allowed to open for any services until we are cleared to resume business by the health department and the Mayor.

We do have procedures for quarantining all incoming materials when we are allowed to do so and those procedures are outlined in a different question in this FAQ.

Are you / will you be offering curbside service so I can return materials or checkout materials?  ^

No. We are NOT currently offering any type of curbside service. 

We participated in a conference call with West Central District Health Department (WCDHD) on Wednesday 3/24/2020 and are following all federal, state, and local guidance. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been made aware of the plight of libraries. We are complying with and honoring guidance received from these health sources. We know we are being cautious and it is for the safety of our community and employees.

Before we can offer any curbside service for checking out, we need to be able to accept returned materials. We have approved quarantine procedures in place and are waiting to receive shipment of a chemical on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) List N of Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2. Pending approval from the WCDHD or the Mayor, we may be able to start this when the disinfectant arrives. We believe that putting this service in place when the virus is peaking in our geographic region could be unsafe and that situational knowledge could contribute to a further delay.

We have staff in the building Monday through Friday from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm that are answering questions by phone at 308-535-87036 x3301 (or option #2), by email (library@ci.north-platte.ne.us), by postal mail to North Platte Public Library, 120 W 4th ST, North Platte NE 69101, and through our Facebook presence (https://facebook.com/NorthPlattePL).

What are your returned material quarantine procedures?  ^

Our current procedure follows materials handling guidelines from the Northeast Document Conservation Center by way of the American Library Association and recent research from the New England Journal of Medicine concerning surface survivability and biocidal agent testing from The Journal of Hospital Infection.

We spent approximately $240 on totes, gloves, and Lysol disinfectant spray on 3/17. It bought us 14 totes with lids, 200 gloves, and 6 cans of Lysol disinfectant spray. We are specifically using this spray because one of the above studies references ethanol as a good biocide. However, that article is about biocide for SARS-CoV versus MERS-CoV – not the exact same thing as our current situation of SARS-CoV2. The other medical article shows half life of SARS-CoV versus SARS-CoV2 and the results are similar so we developed procedures with this in mind.

Emporia State University has published a review of existing literature specific to COVID-19 and libraries in early March.

The basic procedure is to load the items into a tote, spritz the items with Lysol, and close up the tote with a lid for a minimum of 48 hours.

The EPA has releasedList N: Disinfectants to Use Against SARS-CoV-2. After studying this list, the product we used earlier for materials returned March 16 & 17 is not proven but is presumed to be effective against this strain of coronavirus. Therefore, we have an order in place

We are following instructions from both the Mayor’s office and West Central District Health Department to remain completely closed for material returns – which has impacted our decision to delay starting curbside services. We are finalizing our curbside service procedures so that when we are allowed, we will be ready.

PLEASE DO NOT disinfect library materials at home, you could be doing more damage than helping. Also it is a waste of resources since ALL library materials will have to go through protocols at the library upon return.

What are other public libraries doing across the state?  ^

The Nebraska Library Commission is maintaining a Nebraska library status list. Additionally there is a crowd sourced national library status list. The Nebraska Library Commission has posted free resources for Library COVID-19 and Emergency Planning and a Pandemic Preparedness page of information for libraries.

Are you taking donated books and materials right now? Since we are social distancing, we are cleaning house.  ^

We are not taking any donations or library returns at this time due to concerns over this specific virus strain’s surface survivability characteristics. Please hang onto your items for now. We are hoping for more research backing up our belief that our quarantining materials procedures are sufficient to keep us and our community safe.

Nationally, what are libraries doing?  ^

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is the national level division of the federal government for libraries and museums. It is considered an “Other Independent Agency” and in the President’s 2021 Major Savings and Reforms area of The President’s Budget it has been slated for elimination since 2016. They are maintaining a minimal coronavirus updates page and a list of resources other libraries and museums have been managing. There is also a crowd sourced national library status list.

American Library Association (ALA) is another national resource for libraries and they have a fairly extensive list of all sorts of information related to coronavirus response. The Public Library Association (PLA) has information specific to public libraries and their response to coronavirus.

Are you printing masks or other medical equipment on your 3D printers?  ^

We are checking into how we can help in this area, but at this time (3/31) we are not printing masks or any other medical devices. The FDA has issued guidelines for 3D printing of medical devices, accessories, components, and parts during the COVID-19 pandemic. The CDC’s Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of Facemasks has four levels of supply. Efforts like fabric masks via the Facebook North Platte Canteen for COVID-19 group all help.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) has a 3D Printing Exchange of models that are being tested for viability.

America Makes has issued a fluid and frequently updated statement on COVID-19 Health Care Needs and AM Capabilities Repository.

*** FINES / FEES, AND CIRCULATION RELATED ***

When are my items due?  ^

We have already extended due dates in the following manner:

  • All items due during the week of 3/2/2020 – 3/7/2020 are now due Wednesday, April 15, 2020
  • All items due during the week of 3/9/2020 – 3/14/2020 are now due Wednesday, April 15, 2020
  • All items due during the week of 3/16/2020 – 3/21/2020 are now due Wednesday, April 15, 2020
  • All items due during the week of 3/23/2020 – 3/28/2020 are now due Wednesday, April 22, 2020
  • All items due during the week of 3/30/2020 – 4/4/2020 are now due Wednesday, April 29, 2020
  • All items due during the week of 4/6/2020 – 4/11/2020 are now due Wednesday, May 6, 2020

We have renewed everything that was overdue still out since March 1, 2020 to the above staggered due dates. We have waived all overdue fines occurring after March 1, 2020.

Lost items and fees that occurred before 3/18/2020 are still in place. Account holders are responsible for any fees occurring before March 1, 2020. Just know that as along as the library is closed, no additional fees are generated and we are not generating notices.

As we move forward through this crisis, we will update due dates as necessary.

My account is expired, can I renew it to use online services?  ^

We have proactively taken the steps necessary to renew all accounts that expired between March 1, 2020 and April 30, 2020. They now expire on December 31, 2020. We will continue to extend these out as necessary.

If your account expired before March 1, 2020 and you are still in our system, you may call the Library Monday through Friday from 9 am – 5 pm at 308-535-8036 x3301. We will require some information over the phone from you, such as your library card number, your current address, and your birthdate. We will then extend your account’s expiration date to December 31, 2020. At which time you will need follow normal account renewal procedures including personally presenting a photo ID with proof of current address inside Lincoln County to renew your account.

Are you charging fines if you are closed?  ^

No. Our system is always setup to not charge fines for closed days. Account holders are still responsible for all fees that were charged to accounts before Monday, March 2, 2020, and this includes accounts with lost item replacement fees that happened before March 18, 2020. All overdue fees occurring after March 1, 2020 have been waived.

We have suspended fee generation / overdue notification procedures. As long as our doors are closed, our system will not generate or accrue fines.

We have suspended collection agency procedures. No new accounts since March 18, 2020 have been sent to collections. Collections will resume when we return to normal services and open our doors. At this point the 10 person rules will keep us closed for the near future. The library normally has between 300-400 visitors per day. In a 12 hour (9 am – 9 pm) day, that averages to 25-33 people per hour. City of North Platte and Library leadership wants to be cautious when it comes to community health.

We have now worked through manually waiving more than $525 in fees and fines generated since March 1, 2020. For items that were overdue previous to March 1st, no fines accrue while we are closed. Items that were not returned by March 18 and were already long overdue have gone to LOST status since March 1st and those replacement costs for material remain on the account. Many times lost items replacement costs send accounts to our collections agency. We have waived the debt collection fee on those accounts. Two weeks after we resume operations – not limited circulation services, but open our doors, those accounts may again go to collections and be charged the $15 debt collect servicing fee. We have been closed as of March 18, 2020 and currently have our system set to remain closed until April 14, 2020. We are hoping to provide limited circulation services as early as Wednesday, April 1, 2020.

I believe one of my requests are waiting to be picked up, how can I get it?  ^

Unfortunately, as of right now, you can’t get it. We have been instructed to keep the doors locked and suspend circulation services. We have taken steps to keep your requests in the queue, they are now set to expire on April 22, 2020 and we will move them again, if the situation warrants. You can make requests online through our catalog and when we are able to provide at least outgoing circulation services, they will be ready for us to pull. We will update this question as we have further information.

Can you mail materials to me?

No. Our budget would not be able to absorb a “books by mail” type service. As this continues on, we may reconsider this decision. If you would like to return your materials, we have quarantine procedures for returns. The problem with the book drop is the handle and it’s operation become a “high touch” surface that the virus can live on, at least that is the public health department’s concern and our staff’s concern.

*** FUN THINGS WE ARE DOING FOR YOU DURING THIS CRISIS ***

My kids miss Story Time, can you do Story Time online?  ^

Yes. Our first Story Time with Chris video was posted to Facebook on March 24, 2020. We are trying to get to 3-5 story times per week (about daily) posting to our Facebook page @NorthPlattePL while we are closed. We briefly had a YouTube playlist with the videos and because of copyright implications, we have removed the Virtual Story Time playlist on our YouTube Channel.

Thank you KNOP News2 for helping us get the word out about our online Story Time activities.

We are still hoping to offer Summer Reading Programs this summer and have been working on a really cool dragon to decorate the Library. This summer’s theme is “A Dragon’s Tale”.

We are having a bookmark making contest for kids ages 5-18. Have your kids engage their creative side by submitting a bookmark by mail, must be postmarked April 6, 2020.

Are you still doing your annual summer bookmark contest for kids?  ^

Yes. Calling kids ages 5-18…we are having our annual bookmark contest. This year’s theme is “A Dragon’s Tale”.

The 2020 bookmark contest rules:

  • One (1) theme related entry per person.
  • The Library is closed but the form is available HERE
  • Bookmark entries should be outlined in black ink and must be 2 1/8″ (2.125″) wide by 8″ tall as outlined on the form.
  • All entries MUST include name, age, and phone number on the entry form
  • All Entries should be postmarked by April 6, 2020 and mailed to:
    • North Platte Public Library
      Attn: Bookmark Contest
      120 W 4th ST
      North Platte NE 69101
    • Entries can also be emailed to: library@ci.north-platte.ne.us and must be received by April 7, 2020.
  • Bookmarks will be printed and displayed during National Library Week (April 19-25, 2020) and throughout the summer upon the Library re-opening from this current crisis.
  • There will be one (1) winner per each age group (5-7, 8-11, 12-14, and 15-18) as decided by the Library’s Bookmark Committee
  • Only first names and age of the entry will be included with printed and displayed bookmarks.

If you have questions, call the library at 308-535-8036 x3301.

*** ONLINE AND VIRTUAL SERVICES – HOW TO VIDEOS AND OTHER HELPS ***

How do I use the Virtual Library eResources like Overdrive?  ^

We have created short videos to help you navigate the online catalog, borrowing books on Overdrive, and Signing into Overdrive from either an Apple IOS or Android device. Those videos are posted on our YouTube Channel. We are here Monday through Friday from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm to offer over the phone (308-535-8036 x3301) support to the best of our ability.

I’m trying to use Libby / Overdrive or RBDigital and my card says it’s expired, I was just there and you verified my address, what is going on? ^

Library accounts have several dates associated with each account like: creation date, registration date, address check date, last updated date, last checked out date, and last authentication date. We also have several types of borrower accounts. It can be confusing but this is the basics:

Adult (18+ and lives in Lincoln County) – Expires every 5 years
Youth (13 – 17 and lives in Lincoln County) – Expires every 5 years
Child (0-12 years and lives in Lincoln County) – Expires every 5 years
Non-Resident (Lives outside Lincoln County and pays $35.00 annually) – Expires every 1 year
NebrasKard (Lives outside Lincoln County, has a relationship with a reciprocal borrowing library, known as a home library) – Expires every year on the anniversary the reciprocal privilege issued by the home library
Temporary (Lives anywhere with or without proof of address and pays $10.00 for 3 months of service) – Expires in 90 days and can only be renewed one (1) time before you must switch to another type of account.

Address check dates happen every 365 days for the following account types: Adult, Youth, and Child
Address check dates happen every 180 days for the following account types: Non-Resident and NebrasKard
Address check dates happen every 30 days for Temporary accounts.

If your account was recently flagged for address check, we will ask you to verify address and phone number and for you to verify there are no other changes with your account.

If you account is flagged as expired, we will require a photo ID with current address – the same procedures we require to obtain a library card the first time.

In the past year, we have been cleaning up our system of long expired accounts. Accounts which were dormant and expired before January 1, 2015 were purged.

IF YOUR ACCOUNT REPORTS EXPIRED FOR AN ONLINE RESOURCE AND YOU BELIEVE YOU USED US SINCE 2015, please call and we can verify information over the phone so that we can change your account expiration date to December 31, 2020.

We have been discussing making changes to these parameters, but with all that is going on, any changes we make will be delayed either until a new budget year (October 1, 2020) or a new calendar year (January 1, 2020), or maybe later.

*** PUBLIC GROUPS, MEETINGS, AND PROGRAMMING ***

What is the status of Library Programming and Group Meetings at the Library?  ^

All in-person library programming and community group meetings were cancelled beginning Monday, March 16, 2020 through April 30, 2020 and Open Builds and Workshops in the Creation Station will be cancelled through May 2, 2020. This will be extended as conditions warrant.

You can view our calendar of events at https://north-platte.libcal.com/.

Will there be a book sale in April?  ^

No. The Friends of the Library in coordination with Library Administration and the Health Department, the decision has been made to CANCEL the Spring 2020 Book Sale. You can monitor http://www.npplfoundation.org/ for information about a fall book sale.

*** WHERE TO GO IN OUR COMMUNITY FOR VARIOUS SERVICES AND OTHER REFERENCE QUESTIONS ***

Where can I go if I need help paying my bills?  ^

There are a number of resources to help support you in tough times.

Aunt Bertha (https://www.auntbertha.com/) is a good site to start searching for help. All you do is enter your zip code and then go to the Money category tab at the top and choose the type of assistance you seek. Need Help Paying Bills (https://www.needhelppayingbills.com/) breaks down on the left the type of assistance you seek and in some cases will give you very specific information for your local area.

Nebraska Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) has information about energy assistance programs and weatherization programs available in Nebraska and provides an online application process.

For access to all kinds of federal assistance programs including unemployment, energy assistance, and disaster relief, visit: https://www.benefits.gov/

What does the State Issued Directed Health Measure mean?  ^

from: DHHS Understanding the State’s Directed Health Measures
Who does the Directed Health Measure apply to?

It applies to places such as theaters, churches, houses of worship, gyms, social clubs, salons, and social gatherings, including weddings, funerals, concerts, and athletic events. This is not an exhaustive list, but illustrates the types of locations the DHM applies to.

Do I need to shut down my bar or restaurant?

At bars and restaurants, it applies to patrons, not to your workforce. Restaurants and bars are encouraged to ask their patrons if they can prepare their order for takeout upon arrival. Restaurants will play a key part in feeding people throughout the pandemic.

Do I need to shut down my daycare?

No. DHHS has issued new guidance that daycares need to follow .

Do I need to shut down my office?

No. The Directed Health Measure does not apply to places such as office buildings, grocery stores, pharmacies, hospitals, nursing homes, correctional facilities, court houses, court rooms, banks, car dealerships, auto repair shops, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, small shops, golf courses, big box stores, gas stations, convenience stores, shopping malls, manufacturing facilities, packing facilities, construction jobs, and other traditional office settings. This is not an exhaustive list, but illustrates the types of locations the DHM does not apply to.

Furthermore, we do not expect these facilities to be impacted by additional limits at this time.

Do I need to cancel a wedding or a funeral?

Weddings and funerals are also subject to the 10-person limit. Event planners and facilities are encouraged to be flexible with people who are rearranging their plans.

What is the Economic Impact Payment and when / how do I get it?  ^

Economic impact payments: What you need to know – If you filed a tax return for 2018 or 2019 and provided deposit account information, you will get money automatically.

  • Economic impact payments will be available for the rest of 2020, so you have some time.
  • Full payment of $1,200 if your adjusted gross income is below $75,000 for individuals and below $150,000 couples will get $2,400.
  • No payment if your adjusted gross income is over $99,000 for single filers and over $198,000 for joint filers without children
  • In between the adjusted gross income guidelines will receive $5.00 less in payment amounts per every $100 of adjusted gross income.
  • Parents will receive $500 per eligible child
  • It will come by direct deposit to the account you filed with your taxes in 2019 (already filed this year) or last year (2018 taxes) if you have not yet filed this year.
    • If the IRS does not have your account information on file with your tax return, they will be (haven’t yet setup) an online site for you to securely transmit that information to the IRS – there will not be paper checks with this program
  • You must have filed a tax return for tax years 2018 or 2019. “People who typically do not file a tax return will need to file a simple tax return to receive an economic impact payment. Low-income taxpayers, senior citizens, Social Security recipients, some veterans and individuals with disabilities who are otherwise not required to file a tax return will not owe tax.” – keep watching the IRS LINK for updates.
  • Example 1 (as we understand currently): Single parent with adjusted gross income of $85,000 with one eligible child will get:
    85,000-75,000=10,000/100=100*5 = $500 so $1,200-$500 = $700 + $500 = $1,200.
  • Example 2 (as we understand currently): Couple with adjusted gross income of $60,000 with four eligible children will get:
    $2,400 plus $500*4=$2000 so payment of $4,400

What is the difference between quarantine and Isolation?  ^

Isolation and quarantine help protect the public by preventing exposure to people who have or may have a contagious disease.

Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick.
Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.

More information at the CDCs: About Quarantine and Isolation

How can I file an Unemployment Claim?  ^

Information about Unemployment Insurance is available at: https://dol.nebraska.gov/UIBenefits.

Step by Step Guide (PDF) for Online Claims is linked at the above site.

You will need the following information to apply for unemployment benefits:

  • Social Security Number
  • Complete home mailing address, including ZIP code
  • Telephone number
  • Email address
  • County you live in
  • Driver’s license number or State ID card number
  • If you select direct deposit, your bank routing number and account number
  • The company names for all your employers from the past 18 months as they appear on your paycheck stubs or W-2 forms
  • Complete mailing addresses of employers, including ZIP code and the city in which the business is physically located
  • Your start and end dates with each employer, including month, day, and year
  • Your reason for leaving each employer (lack of work, voluntary quit, discharge, leave of absence)
  • Employment authorization number and expiration date (if a non-citizen)
  • If you served in the military the past 18 months, DD 214 Member #4 Form
  • If you worked for the federal government as a civilian employee in the last 18 months, Standard Form 8 or Standard Form 50. Also, compile your total wages earned with the federal employer in the last 18 months and indicate how you were paid (hourly, weekly, and monthly).

Unemployment Insurance Claims
File for Unemployment Insurance Benefits at NEworks.nebraska.gov
Phone: 855-995-8863
Fax: 402-458-2595
Emailndol.nichelp@nebraska.gov

Benefit Overpayments
Phone: 402-471-2865
Fax: 402-471-2655
Pay online atNEworks.nebraska.gov

Unemployment Insurance Tax Information
UI Tax Help Line: 402-471-9898
UI Tax Help FAX: 402-471-9994
EmailUICContact@nebraska.gov

The Local North Platte Job Center may be able to help by appointment: North Platte – Phone: 308-535-8320

Other area job centers are available: https://dol.nebraska.gov/Home/AboutUs

How can I apply for a federal Small Business Administration (SBA) Loan due to COVID-19 financial injury?  ^

North Platte Area Chamber and Development has a list of COVID-19 Business Resources at http://www.nparea.com/covid-19-business-resources

SBA has fairly extensive guidance page at: https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources

SBA also maintains a page to help you identify and apply for Disaster Assistance from COVID-19 at: https://www.sba.gov/disaster-assistance/coronavirus-covid-19

The COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan Application site is: https://covid19relief.sba.gov/#/

To locate a local SBA Office for assistance, please see: https://www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance/map/state/NE/

What are food pantry hours?  ^

These information is very fluid, please check their respective information pages for the latest information:

  • Salvation Army 1020 N Adams Ave (308) 532-2038  fb@SA.NorthPlatte
  • Grace Ministries Food Pantry 114 E “C” ST 308-532-1238  website
  • St. Patrick Church Food Pantry  415 N Chestnut  (308) 532-8800  website Must call for assistance
  • North Platte Pet Food Pantry  3502 S. Willow  (402) 340-0369  fb@NorthPlattePetFoodPantry

Where can I get taxes prepared now that AARP isn’t doing them at the library?  ^

  • Nebraska Governor announced state tax filing deadline extended to July 15, 2020.
  • IRS Announced that tax filing day will now be July 15, 2020.
  • Local tax preparing services are open by appointment only, please call them to make an appointment
  • IRS announced that if you owe taxes on your federal return on April 15, 2020 – you now have until July 15, 2020 to pay it interest / penalty free Source: Internal Revenue Service

AARP Tax Assistance will NOT be back this year at all regardless of any filing deadline extensions provided by state or federal government. This was their decision. The Library is just the place for the service.

Where can I go if I need copies, faxing, or printing services?  ^

This information was current on 18 MAR 2020:

  • UPS Store (in the strip mall south of Walmart) does copying and faxing services
  • Flying J Truck Stop has photocopying and faxing services

Can you provide a list of churches that offer online worship services?  ^

Yes. This is the list of North Platte Churches, we believe are offering online worship services or online supplemental information for parishioners.

Beautiful Savior Lutheran (Missouri Synod)
Berean Church
Bethel Church
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS)
First Baptist Church
First Christian Church
First Lutheran Church (ELCA)
First Presbyterian Church
First United Methodist Church
Grace Community Bible Church
Holy Spirit Catholic Church
Messiah Lutheran Church (ELCA)
New Life Church
North Platte Baptist Church
The Rock Church
St. Patrick’s Catholic Church
St. Paul Lutheran Church (Wisconsin Synod)

How can I get reading material if I don’t want to or can’t go online?  ^

We understand and do apologize. We are researching the impacts and requirements for alternative circulation strategies such as books by mail and curb side service but are not ready to implement anything yet.

A to Z Bargain Books may be open by appointment to keep their numbers below the 10 people rule. Their phone number is (308) 534-0140 or Facebook: @A-to-Z-Books-184446844908304/.

Can you tell me what’s up with COVID testing in our community? ^

We (librarians) only know what we can gather from bonafide sources. Information literacy is very important and this pandemic is proving it. You can’t believe everything you see, hear, or read. This is what we know.

The Governor and State of NE Health Department state that along with the University of NE Medical Center laboratories, they can process 200 tests per day (source: KNOP News2 Coverage of Governor’s press conference March 20, 2020). They have the testing supplies, but are being choosy about who gets tested because only the worst should be tested to save lives due to the time it takes to process the test. They have enlisted the help of outside labs capable of testing appropriately. There are several tests and types of tests and until the ribonucleic acid (RNA) of the virus was sequenced, it was hard to detect. The genome of the virus (COVID-19) was sequenced by Chinese scientists and announced February 25, 2020 (source: Asian Scientist).

SARS-CoV-2 (also known as COVID-19) sequencing is being tracked by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) under the National Library of Medicine (NLM) and National Institutes of Health (NIH). Source: SARS-CoV-2 (Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) Sequences

Rapid Influenza Diagnostic Tests (RIDT) for influenza can be done locally and take approximately 15 minutes for results. Current tests for SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19 are called Real-Time Reverse Transcriptase (RT)-PCR Diagnostic Panels and require a laboratory and currently take approximately 4-6 hours to process. Work is being conducted around the world, in both private and public sectors, to create a more rapid diagnostic test that can be easily distributed and quickly processed. It will take time before we have something like that available. Currently, North Platte is sending testing out to the two labs throughout the state for processing with additional private sector labs coming on board as I am writing.

Abbott, a private medical technology company, announced on March 27, 2020 that they have created a reliable rapid point-of-care test for COVID-19 with wait time between 5-15 minutes. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) immediate approved the test as an Emergency Use Authorization. On March 30, 2020, the President announced during the Coronavirus Task Force Briefing that production of the test is ramping up fast and Abbott has stated it plans to distribute as many as 50,000 test per day to clinics and providers next week (April 6-10).

In general, due to time requirements for the test to process, testing is being limited to those with ALL of the COVID-19 symptoms or who are in severe enough condition to warrant medical treatment. Those with mild or partial symptoms are being instructed to self quarantine and isolate human contact (as much as possible) for 14 days plus 72 hours symptom free. Nebraska and Lincoln County and North Platte still have a large amount of influenza cases which accounts for the high number of people, with symptoms severe enough to be tested, who are testing NEGATIVE. As of today (3/24) there are 61 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 1,304 NEGATIVE tests in Nebraska.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a Symptom Checker available at the CDC Testing Information Center online. CDC also has What to Do If You Think You Are Sick guidance.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has released a Testing Site Information document (PDF). DHHS also as a COVID-19 Information Line at 402-552-6645 that is available 8 am – 8 pm central time, 7 days a week.

West Central District Health Department (WCDHD) has an online COVID-19 Screening Questionaire.  These are the same questions any provider will ask to determine whether you should be tested.

If you are sick and need medical assistance, please follow CDC protocols including calling ahead to ANY Medical Provider or Emergency Department and wearing a mask. This is for healthcare and general public safety.

If you are sick and can get by without medical assistance, please quarantine and self isolate yourself from others for 14 days plus 72 hours without symptoms. Practice good hygiene and wash your hands frequently. Cover your coughs with your elbow. If you must go out in public, wear a mask and try to maintain a 6 feet of distance for others around you including others inside your house. As you recover, disinfect all high touch surfaces and things that may be in contact with respiratory droplets. New studies indicate that the virus can maintain surface survivability for days. See our question below about quarantining library materials for more information on surface survival of the virus.

If you are health and want to stay healthy, limit ALL group activities to less than 10 people, maintain a physical distance of 6 feet when possible from everyone else, wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, and make the decision to social distance (stay home or go only to and from work) when you can.

If someone in your house is sick, understand and take seriously that you have had close contact with an infected person. You may not know what they have, but for the safety of others, you should follow the same guidelines as if you were sick even if you feel healthy. Because the virus can spread BEFORE you show symptoms and transmission is person to person, all people residing in one house/apartment should follow the same parameters as if you were sick.

I’m feeling anxiety, depression, or loneliness. Can you help me?  ^

If you are experiencing isolation depression, pick up the phone and call someone. Use technology when you can to stay in touch and reach out to others. Visit someone from outside their window…serenade or wave at others from afar. We are in this together, there is no reason to feel alone.

Reach out if you need help.The CDC has guidance for coping with mental stress and anxiety. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has published a Resource and Information Guide (PDF). Several hotlines exist for suicide & crisis where you can speak to a counselor. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255 (https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/).  Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has additional information relating to family crisis, youth suicide prevention, and Local Outreach to Suicide Survivor (LOSS) Teams. Nebraska State Suicide Prevention Coalition is another resource.

Show some of that North Platte Canteen spirit by helping others through the Facebook Group: North Platte Canteen for COVID-19. Have a hobby, do that. Don’t have a hobby, explore some hobbies of interest, either virtually through YouTube videos, or find out your friend’s hobby and share information. We are all human and sooner or later everyone gets the blues. Crisis and unknown situations spurs anxiety in everyone. Help each other while maintaining social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19. Just pick up the phone and make a call, even if it’s to us.

Lutheran Family Services TeleHealth Letter to Clients  TeleHealth services have been expanded and are available to anyone who needs counseling or Behavioral Health services. Call 1-833-903-2376 to learn more about TeleHealth.