For the Media

Risto Rautiainen, Ph.D., professor of environmental, agricultural & occupational health, UNMC

Video (mp4) | Audio (mp3)

What kind of respiratory protection should farmers use to protect themselves from the dust and gases in their work environment?
“Agriculture work environments…for those gases."

Will the respiratory protection farmers currently use on the job also work to protect them from COVID infection?
“We have a new situation…protect people around you.”

How can I make the respiratory’ s I already have last longer?
"It is good to keep…try to protect against it.”

Are cloth masks good enough to protect me from the COVID-19 virus?
"Now that we have…cloth face covering."


Beth Beam, Ph.D., R.N., UNMC College of Nursing

Video (mp4) | Audio (mp3)

Making a homemade mask
How should I wear a mask?
How do I remove a mask?
How do I wash a mask?


Alëna (AH-LOW-NAH) Balasanova (BAH-LA-SAW-NOVA), MD, UNMC/Nebraska Medicine psychiatrist

Video (mp4) | Audio (mp3)

How do I know when to reach out for help during this time of social distancing?
“So I think when you find yourself worrying to a degree where it is getting in the way of your functioning; where you are not able to get out of bed in the morning; your not able to complete the tasks you normally complete; your not finding joy in your day-to-day activities because you are so consumed by worry about your loved ones about what is going on; that is the prime time to reach out for help. And many mental health providers are offering Telehealth services. So you are able to access that help right from the comfort of your home. Likewise, there are communities of support groups also running through tele-psychiatry through the computer. So you can still get that community support that you need without having to leave your home and while maintaining physical distancing. ” 


Christie Barnes, MD, UNMC/Nebraska Medicine ear, nose and throat surgeon

Video (mp4) | Audio (mp3)

If I lose my sense of smell and taste due to COVID-19, will it return?
“I would say over the last couple of weeks we have gotten a lot more coming out that patients that potentially have minimal symptoms overall, can present with loss of sense of smell as a primary complaint. When they are trying their marinara they might notice, ‘Gosh, this just tastes kind of bland.’So…and that really is the loss of smell that they are perceiving it is not necessarily that this virus affects your sense of taste. It is in fact the smell itself. So I think this may be an opportunity for us to get the word out that if you have these symptoms, this may be the only sign you will have of this viral infection. In those cases where people lose their smell from a viral infection then the vast majority of them, their smell returns.”


Ellen Duysen, outreach specialist for the Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health, UNMC

Video (mp4) | Audio (mp3)

What type of emergency plan should farmers and ranchers be making right now?
“I think that we…critical staff are out?

What kind of plans are needed to keep me and my workforce healthy?
“Right now if you are thinking…and putting it on.”

How important is handwashing right now?
“We always know in agriculture…of Minnesota website.”


Jill Poole, MD, chief of the UNMC Division of Allergy and Immunology and allergist at UNMC/Nebraska Medicine

Video (mp4) | Audio (mp3)

How do I tell the difference and symptoms of allergies and symptoms of coronavirus?
“It is definitely allergy season…cause for concern.”

What percentage of Americans have allergies?
“Well allergies are super common…in to June.”

Does stress play a role in allergies?
“Stress can affect any chronic…complications of asthma.”

Do you have any breathing relaxations tips?
“That is where you sit up…and open up your airways.”

If I have allergies, should be opening up the windows at home?
“and the answer is no…do your sinus irrigations.”


Ali S. Khan, MD, dean of the College of Public Health, University of Nebraska Medical Center

Video (mp4) | Audio (mp3)

Have we reached the peak of the virus here in the United States?
“I like to remind people….prepared at that point.”

Why are we likely to see the virus come back in the fall?
“We are likely to see…persists in our communities.”

How I can I tell if it is allergies, a cold or the virus?
“For Allergies you are likely…that you come and be seen.”

Should I be wearing a mask when I go out?
“My recommendation is…when you are out and about.”


Allison Dering-Anderson, clinical associate professor in the College of Pharmacy, University of Nebraska Medical Center

Video (mp4) | Audio (mp3)

Do I really have to avoid ibuprofen at this time?
“Originally the report was that if you take…why did you take the drug in the first place.”

Why are people hoarding hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil)?  What is it? Do we even know if it works?
“Apparently someone sort of off-the-cuff…and grandchildren could be poisoned.”

Can my pharmacist test me for human corona virus like they test me for influenza?
“Pharmacists can not do COVID-19 tests… and helping to treat symptoms.


Jennifer Abrahams, MD, assistant professor and director of teledermatology, University of Nebraska Medical Center

Video (mp4) | Audio (mp3)

My hands are really dry now that I am washing them so much. What type of lotion do you recommend?
“The best time to lock in the moisture…which is not as moisturizing for our hands.”

How should I car for the skin on my hands if they are starting to crack?
“So when your hands are cracking…new spots forming after the facts.”

Which soap is best for me to use?
“We have a lot of recommendations…non-soap cleansers ideally.”

After using cleaning products to wipe surfaces around my house, should I wash my hands?
“Taking a step back before you even clean…reapply your moisturizers.”


Alëna A. Balasanova, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry, University of Nebraska Medical Center

Video (mp4) | Audio (mp3)

Why is now a high risk time for someone who struggles with drug or alcohol addiction?
“So now is actually a high risk time for individuals…..because of what is going on outside.”

Even for those without an addiction, are people more prone to using alcohol or drugs to self-medicate during these stressful times?
“The natural response of somebody…food, alcohol or other drugs.”

How can I keep from overindulging (on alcohol, food, binge watching TV) while I am stuck at home?
“So over indulging while stuck at home…. Which is something that is really important right now.”


Beth Beam, College of Nursing, University of Nebraska Medical Center

Video (mp4) | Audio (mp3)

How long does the COVID-19 live on things in your house?
“COVID- 19 can live on a variety of surfaces…..this new environment we have with COVID-19.”

What do you do if you have a package delivered to you?
“If a package comes in the mail and you are not…get whatever you have ordered”

Should they open the box up or leave it sealed?
“I would leave it in the condition it arrived in….to not be a problem so.”

Would the same apply to farmers getting planting needs?
“Recognize that the virus is very fragile….you should be safe to open it up."


Sharon Medcalf, College of Public Health, University of Nebraska Medical Center

Video (mp4) | Audio (mp3)

Why is social distancing so important?
“The main thing to consider in social distancing…..that’s a hard thing to do.”

What precautions should famers and rancher be taking?
“The exact same principals apply…it is the same concept.”

Is snuggling allowed with my kids and what about takeout food?
“If your daughter is in your home…they leave that little red finger print behind.”


Katrina Cordts, Ph.D., assistant professor and pediatric psychologist, UNMC/Nebraska Medicine

Video (mp4) | Audio (mp3)

How important is it to have a routine for your children?
“It is even more important . . . but also in terms of their mental and physical health and well-being”

How about a routine for the parents?
“Especially so for parents . . . that’s especially true for children”

How trying is this time right now?
“I think it’s difficult . . . the better off we will be long term”

Any advice for parents of children?
“So we are talking a lot about routines . . . even if it’s not scheduled down to the minute”

What advice do you have as this continues on?
“Continue to have open and honest conversations . . . it’s going to be really important”

How important is Telehealth right now?
“It’s hugely important it allows us . . . how to cope with some of the challenges that they’re facing” 

What are the challenges parents are facing right now?
“Naturally families are still trying to do things like limit technology . . . when all the learning is being sent to them via online platforms”

At what point should people seek help?
“If you’re noticing that you’re having just these overwhelming feelings . . . that would be a good time to get help from a professional.


Kate Fiandt, Ph.D. College of Nursing professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center

Video (mp4) | Audio (mp3)

I have a loved one at home sick with COVID 19, what is your best advice on taking care of a sick loved one?
Well you know they’ve got the COVID19 and so obviously the main things are to keep them comfortable, symptom management, so just like any other type of viral illness, fluids keeping them comfortable, pain management, because a lot of people are very achy. The other thing that people worry about is fever, and so certainly managing the fever. We really are getting away from using ibuprofene for fever, and so we are talking about mostly using Tylenol. And so the two things that I recommend is that you be really careful about how much Tylenol you give, especially if somebody happens to have a compromised liver, liver disease, they can’t have Tylenol so you really have to talk to your primary care about what they’d recommend, but watching the dosing of Tylenol, no more than two regular strength Tylenols every six hours. The other thing I like to remind people is you don’t have to treat every fever. A fever under certainly under 101 I would never treat, remember it’s a natural immune response to just let is go rather than worry about it, the fever is the bodies effort to fight the virus. I worry about the caregivers, caregivers worry, so you need to be really thoughtful about who the primary caregivers are keeping the patient as isolated as possible from children, and certainly from anybody at risk, somebody who has chronic lung disease, somebody who is older, and so the person who is doing most of the care should be the person who is at least risk. So those are the things I would start with. The thing I would worry about when to call when to go to the ER is definitely respiratory distress, so that when they are having shortness of breath, having trouble breathing, that’s what we really worry about, the fever the body aches and pains are part of the virus, the respiratory distress is when it becomes a serious illness.

Pete Iwen, Director, Nebraska Public Health Lab

Video (mp4) | Audio (mp3)

Where do we stand today on testing?
0:04 – 0:25
“Well we are better today than we were yesterday . . . we hope that we can at least test the people that are at high risk and need to be tested?”

Any advice for people living in western Nebraska on getting tested?
0:30 – 0:54
“They need to work with their health care provider, their health care provider can decide whether they need the COVID19 test based on symptoms based on who they were exposed to, their health care provider will work the health care coalition in that district and work then with the public health lab to determine if the test is warranted or not.”

Are we getting close to testing everybody?
0:58 – 1:15
“Are we getting close to testing everybody? I would say at this moment until the commercial companies develop assays that are approved by the FDA for real time, quick time testing, I would say we are still weeks to months away from doing that.”

Lauren Edwards, MD adult psychiatrist, University of Nebraska Medical Center and Nebraska Medicine

Video (mp4) | Audio (mp3)

Every day I hear something about coronavirus. I’m a little scared. Is this normal?
“Absolutely it’s normal to be a little alarmed ... to weather this crisis successfully.”

Why are people panicking about coronavirus?
“So anxiety thrives on uncertainty…that you’re feeling.”

I’ve heard the term panic shopping? Why are people panic shopping? Am I justified for stocking up on supplies?
“I think people are panic shopping because they don’t know…what you should be stocking up on.”

If I have to quarantine myself, what can I do to stay healthy mentally?
“A lot of people are facing the prospect of quarantining … entering in the picture as well.”

Justin Weeks, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist with Nebraska Medicine

Video (mp4) | Audio (mp3)

How can I keep all of what’s happening in perspective?
“In terms of putting it into perspective…take things one step at a time.” 

What can be done to prevent an increase of alcohol and drug use?
“One thing people do as a response to stress…use it as a means to cope.”

Ryan Edwards, MD, psychiatrist at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Nebraska Medicine talks about what parents can do in these difficult times.

Video (mp4) | Audio (mp3)

What are some signs your child may be struggling with fear over coronavirus?
“It’s important to keep … get professional help. 

What do parents need to keep in mind when it comes to media consumption?
“It’s important to keep in mind that children … filter the information but answer as they come up in real time.” 

What are some things we can say to reassure our children?
“One of the things that I would say to help reassure your children … were doing everything we can to keep our family safe.” 

What can I do with my kids if we’re all at home to keep mind off the situation?
“With any natural disaster … will be critical.”

Children can act out during times of stress. What advice can you give parents to reduce the stress around them?
“Children will manifest stress in a variety of different ways … That can be a very, very powerful intervention if it’s structured and done every day.”

Matt Beacom, MD, an assistant professor and family medicine physician in the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health. He also is a farm safety expert. 

Video (mp4) | Audio (mp3)

What are the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 or coronavirus and what should I do if I have it?
“The signs and symptoms of COVID-19 . . . and cough medications.” 

Those who live in rural areas are known for hard work and can-do attitude. What is your advice when it comes to coronavirus?
“In growing up in a rural environment myself … now is not the time to do that.” 

How should our interactions change in the rural environment?
“The interactions significantly need to change … and now is not a time to be social.”

What do I need to know about wiping down surfaces? How long does coronavirus live on surfaces?
We don’t really know … therefore it is prudent to wipe them down appropriately.” 

When should someone seek medical attention?
“The greatest thing to seek … start moving toward the hospital and calling ahead to let them know you’re coming.”

Jeffrey P. Gold, MD, chancellor of the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

What are some of the top rural concerns regarding the coronavirus?
Audio (mp3) | 25 seconds
“I would put at the top of the list accurate information sharing – ability to communicate in a timely fashion with up-to-date information to physicians, nurses, pharmacists and others regarding training, regarding precautions, regarding appropriate use of protective equipment – think masks, gowns, caps and things along that nature.”

What are some of the top rural concerns regarding the coronavirus?
Audio (mp3) | 30 seconds
“Equipment and supplies -- do our critical access hospitals and small community hospitals have an adequate amount of that? I can tell you I the large cities we are struggling with that. While we do have a reasonable amount of that material on hand, it’s certainly not infinite and if this continues to grow, as it has along the coasts to rural America, those supplies are going to be particularly limited in our rural and particularly critical access hospitals.”

What are some of the top rural concerns regarding the coronavirus?
Audio (mp3) | 31 seconds
“If individuals show up with the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 or coronavirus disease, what capabilities will our rural hospitals have to make that diagnosis, to provide timely testing and access and then get those specimens into the hands of a laboratory that’s got the capacity to make a determination in a timely fashion. Hospitals and health systems in rural America need to be watching very carefully.”

Do you see surge capacity for rural hospitals being an issue? 
Audio (mp3) | 1:08 seconds
“I think it’s very much unknown at this time. If you look at other parts of the world, think Italy or certainly in China, and any other parts, we have seen outbreaks in those communities that in both the rural and the urban communities. You know we see a concentration of that in the large urban communities in America now and certainly other parts of the world and that’s because of the density of the population and the way the virus spreads by droplet transmission. But as people travel across the country from urban to rural communities back and forth, you know, think about people that are part of our supply chain, people who work for our railroads, people who work for trucking industries, farmers and ranchers who have to bring things back and forth to different markets. That’s when the interaction between individuals who have either been exposed actually even be ill and not know it themselves can occur and then unknowingly they would bring that back to their rural community.”

Do you feel rural hospitals are prepared to handle these cases?
Audio (mp3) | 42 seconds
“What’s going to happen in the rural communities actually is on a somewhat different scale. If one or two nurses or one or two physicians were to have to be quarantined or become ill in a large urban medical center, they could be covered for relatively easily. But if one of two critical physicians or nurses, pharmacists, etc., in a small critical access hospital were to become ill, that could be an impact of a totally different proportion. So we have to watch very carefully, stay tightly connected to what’s going on in the rural hospitals and attempt to try to prevent exceeding the capacity of what those hospitals may need to deliver.”

Broadband and telehealth have been a big issue for rural communities. Can these play a role in addressing coronavirus?
Audio (mp3) | 49 seconds
“We believe they can, they should and they will. Certainly the ability to deliver telehealth services which is what exactly what we want to do. So if there are individuals who have a fever of a cough or is somewhat short of breath, and they’re not sure what to do, in a rural or an urban setting, the best thing to do is make a phone call rather than get in the car and head off to your local emergency room or health professions office. But telehealth also is going to play a role in screening, it’s going to play a role in how we manage critically important supplies and equipment, and it’s also going to be a way of supporting families because people are going to have all kinds of very important questions – should I go to work, shouldn’t I go to work, etcetera, and telehealth can help do that.”

Jeff Harrison, MD, professor and chair, UNMC department of family medicine

Video (mp4) | Audio (mp3)

How do I know I have COVID-19 with other viruses like the cold and flu still circulating?
“That’s one of the big challenges that we have right now as health care providers and the entire industry is being able to separate out which those are. The problem is there are so many symptoms that overlap among COVID-19, influenza and the common cold, they all have a cough, which becomes a very nonspecific sign to help health care professionals and the public delineate those things. So COVID-19, and influenza tend to have a fever a fever of 101 or greater, which should raise concerns. The other common cold viruses don’t tend to have a fever. So if you are not febrile that’s a reason for a little bit of reassurance. Shortness of breath tends to go specifically with COVID, much less so with influenza and again the other common cold viruses that we see. Probably the most specific finding is actual exposure to someone who’s got the illness, so if a close personal contact, family member, someone you’ve spent extended time with, is diagnosed with COVID and you develop fever, cough, shortness of breath, you’ve probably got COVID. One of our big challenges right now is we just don’t have enough testing supplies, it’s a much more complex test than many of the things that we do otherwise, so if you’ve had exposure and you have symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath, the assumption is that you have the illness and really should self-quarantine. Unless you become extremely short of breath you develop any confusion, you have any trouble breathing any chest pain at that point we would want you to come in and seek medical care. But call your medical provider ahead of time, we are still trying to mitigate the number of people who would be exposed by anyone who potentially have the illness.”

What viruses are currently still circulating in the population other than COVID-19?
“We are still seeing a lot of influenza A, which we’ve all gotten a little bit complacent with, it’s a number going down each week, I believe there were still 16,000 cases still last week. We’ve had almost a quarter million cases of influenza in this flu season so it is still quite prevalent and it probably has more overlap with the COVID-19 than the other common respiratory illnesses. But they are still out there, rhinovirus is out there, non-COVID coronaviruses are out there, metapneumovirus virus, RSV are still all out in the communities. Most healthy adults tolerate those just fine. It’s that nuisance common cold that we’re all used to. The most important thing to remember most of those will not cause a fever they will not cause confusion they will not cause shortness of breath. They will give you the runny nose, the sneezing the ear plugging, so that becomes another delineation so when you have those symptoms you can actually pretty comfortably be thinking yeah this is probably just a common cold. We don’t tend to see that with the COVD or the influenza.”

What illnesses are still circulating among kids?
“We are still seeing more influenza b among the kids, the good news is as spring comes we are seeing less RSV we are still seeing a lot of the typical rhinovirus. One of the few good things we that we can say about COVID-19, children and infants tend to be relatively spared and tend to do much better than the adults and older folks.”

Should people take their temperature every day?
“Daily temperature monitoring is a good, so the folks that we are asking to monitor closely, I’m a contact of a contact who may have had exposure, twice daily temperature monitoring is actually a good way to monitor because you may develop fever before you develop other symptoms and at that point we want you contacting your doctor.”