Majority of COVID cases linked to Omaha daycare confirmed as U.K. variant

(Omaha, NE) -- The Douglas County Health Department is strongly encouraging anyone who works in childcare to get the COVID-19 vaccine after a recent outbreak at an Omaha childcare facility resulted in more than half the center’s staff and attendees being affected.

DCHD says contact tracing investigations linked more than 100 cases of COVID-19 to this outbreak. Health leaders say most cases were caused by the U.K. variant. DCHD say they're concerned because they know the U.K. variant spreads more easily than other strains of the coronavirus, potentially resulting in more cases.

The Health Department says it also seems that children are more susceptible to becoming ill from the U.K. variant, which is among several identified in Douglas County. “It is crucial that childcare providers get vaccinated,” Health Director Dr. Adi Pour said. “Childcare providers are eligible for the vaccine and can easily make an appointment on the DCHD website.”

Justin Frederick, supervisor of communicable disease epidemiology for Douglas County, tells WOWT 6 News that they're working to determine whether another possible cluster of positive cases was linked to the U.K. variant confirmed at the daycare. As the investigation is still underway, he couldn’t specify anything more about the potential second potential outbreak other than to say that the setting was “an event.”

DCHD stresses people working in childcare need to emphasize the basics of fighting COVID-19 like practicing good hand hygiene and wearing a mask whenever around unfamiliar people.

Rosewood Academy issued a statement Friday afternoon, noting that the outbreak had been contained to only the northwest Omaha location, which had been closed since March 18th. Even before that, the daycare had been going “beyond the requirements of public health experts and sent children home if they presented a fever above 99 degrees,” as opposed to the 100.4-degree recommendation, the release states.

“The health and safety of children, families and staff are the top priority of Rosewood Academy Childcare and Preschool. The spread of the United Kingdom (UK) variant at Rosewood Academy aligns with anywhere it is present – it spreads more easily, and children are more susceptible to it. Procedures and protocols for prevention are the same as other variants of the virus, utilizing thorough screening processes, hand washing and cleaning procedures with staff members, children and families.

Before closing our Northwest location on March 18, Rosewood Academy went beyond the requirements of public health experts and sent children home if they presented a fever above 99 degrees, rather than the 100.4 requirement. A difficulty 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, because of strict procedures and vigilant practices, all three Rosewood Academy Childcare and Preschool locations stayed open without interruption until the UK variant caused many of the COVID-19 infections involving staff members and children at our Northwest location. The outbreak has been 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 are receiving 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 are required to fulfill quarantine requirements outlined by the Douglas County Health Department after any positive test result, which has always been the procedure since the arrival of the virus. Rosewood Academy Childcare and Preschool will continue to work closely and cooperate with the Douglas County Health Department to monitor this situation and encourage families and staff to get the vaccine as quickly as they are able.”

(Photo by WOWT 6 News)

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