For the foreseeable future, we will all be working to combat coronavirus 2019, also known as COVID-19.

As we work together to confront this pandemic, I want to reiterate simple reminders about how we stop it.

Use good hygiene: Everyone should be practicing disciplined hygiene. Here are several things you can do now:

• Bump elbows rather than shake hands to prevent the transfer of germs.

• Stay home if you are sick.

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

• Do not greet people with hugs or kisses.

• Wash hands often for at least 20 seconds.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and then throw the tissue into the trash.

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Watch for COVID-19 symptoms: Most individuals who’ve had COVID-19 show mild to moderate flu-like symptoms and fully recover within two weeks. Symptoms may include fever, cough and shortness of breath. While early evidence shows the virus has less of an impact on young people, it can endanger the lives of the elderly and persons with underlying health conditions such as diabetes, heart or lung disease, and suppressed immune systems. We are constantly learning new things about the new virus.

Seek appropriate help: If you or a member of your household display these symptoms, immediately self-isolate and call your healthcare provider for advice. Do not go to an emergency room or doctor’s office without calling ahead. Your doctor can assist with an initial screening to determine if you should be tested for COVID-19. Public health officials, health care providers, and private labs are working daily to increase nationwide capacity to test more people for COVID-19.

Practice social distancing: Given the heightened risk that exists for the elderly and most vulnerable, we’re asking people to stay at home and to use social distancing techniques to slow the spread of coronavirus and limit its extent. As of Tuesday, March 17, the latest CDC guidance is to avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people. This includes events like funerals and weddings and people at bars and restaurants. Additionally, please do not visit nursing homes or long-term care facilities, and do not take your loved one out of the facility. We must keep them healthy and safe. We expect guidance to change as circumstances evolve. Please constantly monitor www.Governor.Nebraska.gov for the latest information.

Be flexible and resilient: Social distancing is going to be hard for all of us. If you’re a business owner, have a plan for your team, and explore new ways to serve your customers. If you’re a restaurant, ask your customers if you can prepare their meal for takeout. If you’re a gym, work to provide virtual classes, so you can serve people in their homes. Retailers like pharmacies, grocery stores, and home improvement stores are not expected to limit their establishments to 10 people or less. Generally, customers of these businesses are not in close proximity to one another. However, retailers should use common sense to set up queues that keep customers spread out as much as possible. Office buildings or factories are not expected to close.

Prepare for two-week quarantines: I have declared a statewide emergency due to coronavirus. It allows for the suspension of regulatory provisions of state law to aid the state’s response. Along with this action, I issued an executive order to wave certain hauling requirements for truckers delivering in-demand supplies, such as food products to grocery stores. Our supply chains are strong and secure, and Nebraskans can expect to see shelves re-stocked in relatively short order. America has the most efficient and effective supply chain in the world and it is working. Grocery stores will remain open. Don’t buy months and months of food. Have two weeks’ supply on hand, in case you need to self-quarantine, and then buy weekly to maintain that supply.

I urge Nebraskans to stay up-to-date with reliable information about coronavirus. Nebraska’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has a website with the latest news on COVID-19 as well as guidelines for families, daycares, schools, businesses, and healthcare facilities. You can visit it at www.dhhs.ne.gov/Coronavirus. DHHS also has a coronavirus information line: 402-552-6645. It’s open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., every day of the week. As Nebraskans stay informed, show cooperation, and take sensible precautions, I am confident we’ll pass through this challenging season as smoothly as possible.

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