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Coronavirus updates: Workers at Nebraska prisons must wear masks; UNL cancels music camps

Coronavirus updates: Workers at Nebraska prisons must wear masks; UNL cancels music camps

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Scott Frakes, director of the Nebraska Department of Corrections, wears one of the masks that prison staff will be required to wear to reduce transmission of the coronavirus. The masks are being made by inmates.

Workers and people with business at Nebraska’s state prisons will be required to wear masks.

The requirement will apply to all of the more than 2,100 people who work in the state’s 10 prisons, Cornhusker State Industries, offices and warehouses, said Scott Frakes, director of the Corrections Department, on Thursday.

It also applies to anyone who has business at a state facility; this includes contractors, vendors, attorneys and members of the Parole Board.

Staff will be provided cotton twill masks made by the prison workforce. The reusable masks can be hand-washed .

Laura Strimple, chief of staff for Corrections, said the goal is to reduce the likelihood of someone bringing the virus into the prison system. Research has found that wearing face masks may lessen the ease with which an infected person infects others.

Inmates will be allowed to wear masks if they are ill, Strimple said. As of Thursday, there were no known cases of the virus in state prisons, she said.

Frakes said all staff will have masks by early next week.

UNL cancels summer youth band and choir camps

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has canceled its summer youth band and choir camps.

The Glenn Korff School of Music said the announcement includes the Nebraska Show Choir Camp, Middle School Band Camp and High School Marching Band Camp.

Worried you have COVID-19? Health system provides free video chats

People who are worried that they may have been exposed to the novel coronavirus now have another option for screening.

In addition to its questionnaire, CHI Health is offering video chats with health providers to those at high risk of having been exposed to the virus. The chat is available to people in Nebraska and southwest Iowa.

For information, follow the links on the CHI Health coronavirus page at You’ll be directed to take a questionnaire. If your answers indicate that you could be at risk, you will be given an opportunity to click on a link taking you to the provider.

The service is free. The online chat is available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Iowa Legislature, schools will remain closed until at least April 30

The Iowa House and Senate leadership announced Thursday that the legislative session will be suspended until at least April 30. That schedule follows Gov. Kim Reynolds’ recommendation that schools remain closed until then.

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Nancy Gaarder helps cover public safety and weather events as an editor on The World-Herald's breaking news desk. Follow her on Twitter @gaarder. Email:

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