Gov. Pete Ricketts said Monday that receiving more vaccines from the federal government is key to speeding up the state vaccine process.
“In Nebraska, the thing that we can benefit the most from is to have more vaccines,” Ricketts said. “The way emergencies are handled in this country is that they are locally executed, state-managed and federally supported.”
President Joe Biden’s administration promised in December to deliver 100 million vaccines within the next 100 days. While the supply of vaccines is consistent so far with what the state was promised, Ricketts said the government can further support Nebraska “by understanding that emergencies are dealt with at the local level,” and providing more resources.
According to the Nebraska Department of Human Health and Services, 221,394 vaccines have been distributed and 137,249 vaccines have been administered as of Jan. 23. More information about the vaccination effort in Nebraska can be found on the COVID-19 Vaccination Dashboard.
Ricketts said the rate of COVID-19 vaccinations offered through the federal pharmacy program is slower than Nebraska’s state and local health departments. Most notably, the Lancaster County Health Department vaccinated 2,400 health care workers in a matter of hours on Jan. 22 at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Nebraska’s hospital capacity remains stable with 36% of hospital beds available, 35% of ICU beds and 76% of ventilators. However, Ricketts urged the public to continue practicing social distancing and wearing masks despite the drop in hospitalizations.
“Folks, that does not mean it’s the time to let down our guard,” Ricketts said. “We need to continue to do all the things we’ve been doing to be able to get to this point.”
Ricketts advised anyone who is 65 or older and experiencing COVID-19 symptoms to immediately contact their health care providers about receiving plasma treatments that could prevent hospitalizations.
During the briefing, Ricketts also donned a yellow scarf in honor of school choice week in Nebraska. Ricketts supports “educational freedom” and increased funding for private and home schools. The governor also expressed support for a $3 million textbook loan program and school choice scholarships.
“We’ve got a lot of great public schools here, but not every child learns the same way,” Ricketts said. “Parents and kids should have that choice.”