A German Shepard runs through green grass, overplayed with the text
The Bidens’ new puppy, Commander. Photo courtesy of @POTUS on twitter

12/24: Mask mandate updates, exotic animal rescue and emergency alert error 

By Hanna Christensen

Nebraska Humane Society removes more than 500 exotic animals from Papillion home

NHS rescued 575 exotic animals from a home in Papillion on Dec. 20 and 21. According to KETV, the Humane Society found the animals- including exotic birds, ferrets, lizards, rabbits and snakes- in “very poor” and “neglectful” conditions. Vets are examining and treating the animals, some of which can barely eat due to overgrown beaks and claws. According to WOWT, a spokesperson for the Humane Society said some of the animals were deceased, and many of the others were living without food or water. Feces and urine were found in the home. A man was living in the home, and charges against him are pending. The Humane Society is asking for donations to help care for these animals– the donation form is on their website.


Car hits mountain lion northeast of Arlington

The Washington County Sheriff’s office posted that a mountain lion was hit and killed by a car on County Road 15 and 26 on Dec. 22. Nebraska Game and Parks was called in to collect its remains. Sheriff Mike Robinson tweeted that he has never seen anything like this in his 40-year career.


Lancaster County mask mandate comes to an end

Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Director Pat Lopez announced on Dec. 21 that the Directed Health Measure, which includes an indoor mask mandate, will not be extended. After four months, the mandate ended on Dec. 23. Lopez said the DHM was extended last month to give people more time to get their vaccinations and boosters. She said masks are still strongly recommended, and they will still be required in most long-term care facilities and on public transportation. The COVID-19 Risk Dial has remained in the elevated orange for the third consecutive week.


“Christmas comet” streaks through the sky

Comet Leonard, or C/2021 A1, can be seen streaking through the sky during the week of Dec. 20. According to EarthSky, it is the best and brightest comet of the year. The comet has been visible throughout December and will continue to be visible until early January.


The Bidens welcomed a new puppy into the White House- a cat is on the way

On Dec. 20, Joe Biden posted on social media to announce the latest addition to his family- a puppy named Commander. According to NPR, Commander is less than 4 months old and was a gift from James and Sara Biden, the president’s brother and sister-in-law. The puppy is a purebred German Shepherd. NPR also revealed that according to Jill Biden’s press secretary, Michael LaRosa, a female cat will join the family in January. 


Late night emergency alert error

Nebraskans received a loud alert on their smartphones at 11:07 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 21. The alert read “Emergency Alert. The following is a test of the Emergency Alert System. This is a monthly test of the EAS.” The following morning, the Nebraska State Patrol tweeted an apology, stating that the NSP, Nebraska Public Media and NEMA alternate the monthly tests between 10 a.m. and 11 p.m. The tests are only meant for the broadcast media and are seen running as crawls across the screen with a brief audio interrupt. “During last night’s test, the Wireless Emergency Alert system was inadvertently activated as well,” the tweet said. “We apologize for any inconvenience or distress this error may have caused.”


Kim Potter found guilty 

After 27 hours of deliberation, the jury found Kim Potter guilty of first-degree and second-degree manslaughter on Dec. 23. Potter, a former Minnesota police officer, testified that she mistook her handgun for her Taser when she fatally shot Daunte Wright in April. A video of the incident shows Potter repeatedly yelled “Taser” before shooting him. She resigned from the department days later.


FDA approves the first-ever injectable HIV prevention drug

The Food and Drug Administration tweeted Dec. 20 that it has approved the first injectable pre-exposure prevention treatment for HIV in adults and adolescents. Prior to this week, the only FDA approved HIV prevention drug was a daily pill. “This injection, given every two months, will be critical to addressing the HIV epidemic in the U.S., including helping high-risk individuals and certain groups where adherence to daily medication has been a major challenge or not a realistic option,” the FDA said in a statement.


Fremont Police gift money during traffic stops

The Fremont Police Department gave out Christmas cards with money to residents who committed minor traffic violations in the spirit of the holiday season. Alanna Huenniger, who was struggling to afford Christmas gifts this season, posted about her experience on Facebook. “I got pulled over today and I was so confused on what I did wrong and the officer was so nice when he gave me the card. I wanted to cry so much. I am so thankful for whoever is watching over me this Christmas,” she said. According to the Fremont Tribune, a private citizen donates the funds for the event each year. Two officers are given 50 cards to give out, each one containing $100. “Everyone is excited about the money. Some people will get out of the car and give the officer a hug or they will say ‘Thank you I needed this.’ People sometimes will cry,” said Lt. Shane Wimer. 


Kearney man accused of kidnapping, robbing and assaulting Nebraska probation officer

Shawn W. Smith of Kearney has been charged in Buffalo County Court with felony kidnapping, robbery, terroristic threats, flight to avoid arrest, misdemeanor third-degree assault and driving under the influence of alcohol-first offense in the incident. Court records indicate Smith went to a residence where the female probation officer was, hit her numerous times, took her to an ATM to force her to withdraw money and allegedly threatened her if she told anyone. Smith is now in Buffalo County Jail on a $500,000 bond.