Most kids positive for COVID-19 in Omaha daycare outbreak were symptomatic, health department reports

Published: Apr. 21, 2021 at 9:31 AM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - During its meeting Wednesday morning, the Douglas County Board of Health heard details on a local daycare outbreak, including a timeline of events and the findings of an investigation.

According to Justin Frederick with the Douglas County Health Department on March 9, there were 10 confirmed cases identified at the daycare center through routine surveillance. By March 17, there were 44 confirmed cases, and the health department requested that the center voluntarily close.

“We were seeing rapid spread within the center and identification of cases,” said Frederick.

The daycare center had closed March 5 for nine days, reopening by March 15.

On March 18, the DCHD told staff and attendees to quarantine for 10 days to stop ongoing transmission within the center. The next day, the health department had identified 59 confirmed and 7 probable cases.

On March 22, all the specimens that the health department sent for genetic sequencing were identified as the UK variant, B.1.1.7. Families were advised to comply with public health mitigation strategies and to not send their kids to other daycare centers.

At that time, the daycare center in question chose not to reopen.

Through the epidemiologic investigation as well as genomic sequencing data, the health department found that nearly 50% of the daycare was affected. The data shows a total of 134 total cases: 106 were confirmed cases and 28 were probable cases.

  • 83 were primary cases, meaning a childcare attendee or staff member received a positive test result and/or onset of symptoms on or after Feb. 22. According to the data, 26 of those cases were identified in the staff, and 57 were identified in kids, and 92% of them were symptomatic.
  • 49 were secondary cases, meaning a household member of a primary case received a positive test result and/or onset of symptoms on or after Feb. 22. One of those cases resulted in a hospitalization.
  • 2 were tertiary cases, meaning a wedding attendee linked to the childcare outbreak through genetic sequencing.
  • The largest outbreak occurred among children ages 0-5, but transmission occurred from kids to adults as well as community spread with spillover spread happening at a wedding.
  • Through genetic sequencing testing, 27 cases were identified as the U.K. variant. Twenty of the cases were fully sequenced, and seven were partially sequenced.

“As we’re seeing the B.1.1.7 variant being predominant throughout the community, this is showing that a high number of those attendees — those young children — are having symptoms, so it’s showing that it is consistent with being more likely to be infected as well as showing symptoms,” said Frederick.

Frederick said it was determined that there was a lack of early communication from the childcare center and limited data about the level of variant transmission in the community. Public health mitigation could have been better, he said, but noted that masking with this age group is hard.

Digital Director Gina Dvorak contributed to this report.

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