A jump in local cases has Douglas County officials warning that tougher measures are around the corner if the public doesn’t take physical distancing more seriously.

On Monday, the Douglas County Health Department announced 16 new cases of the novel coronavirus disease, or COVID-19. These bring Douglas County to 82 confirmed cases, and health officials warn there are many others in the community who are undiagnosed.

Statewide, the number surged to 153 cases by Monday evening.

Among the new cases is a second employee of the City of Bellevue. The individual worked directly with the city’s first employee who became ill. Bellevue officials have been in contact with other employees who were potentially exposed.

“The public has to take COVID-19 seriously,” Douglas County Board of Health President Chris Rodgers said in a statement Monday. “We hope the public acts now to stop the spread of this disease, or we can and will take more strict measures to limit public activities.”

Rodgers said people need to stay home and avoid crowds.

More than half of the new Douglas County cases were people in their 20s and 30s, and only three involved people in their 60s or older, according to the county. Five of the new cases are of unknown origin. The others had contact with a known ill person or were possibly travel-related.

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