Gov. Pete Ricketts says he doesn’t expect a surge in COVID-19 cases in Nebraska, and the state won’t require people coming from hot spots to quarantine when entering the state.
He also urged Nebraskans to wear masks, especially if they want to watch the Husker football team play.
“If you want to see Husker football this fall, wear a mask when going to the store. Stay 6 feet apart from other people, wash your hands, often. Our non-pharmaceutical interventions, these things we do, that are called social distancing, all help us to make sure we slow the spread of virus here in the state,” he said during his weekly COVID-19 press briefing.
As the number of daily cases in Texas, Arizona, California and other hotspots continue to increase, cases in Nebraska are holding steady, Ricketts said. Those who are planning on traveling out of Nebraska this summer won’t have quarantine when they return, but should if they were exposed.
Ricketts said Nebraska is “in very good shape” with the lowest number of hospitalizations since the third week of April. As of July 1st, 117 people in Nebraska were hospitalized from COVID-19, which is the lowest since the third week in April. There are 40% of beds available in hospitals and 48% of ICU beds are free. Nearly 80% of ventilators are available, he said. According to the state Department of Health and Human Services, 282 people have died from COVID-19 in Nebraska.
He urged Nebraskans, particularly young people, to stay vigilant.
“If you’re going to go out to the bars on a Friday or Saturday night and the bars crowded, pick a different one..,” he said.
He urged Nebraskans to sign up for TestNebraska.com.
“Stay at home until you get that test result back,” he said.
Ricketts said 197,000 people have signed up for Test Nebraska. There have been over 72,000 appointments and more than 65,000 tests.
Officials have also been keeping a close eye on the rates of COVID-19 in long term care facilities and meat processing plants, as these places have seen higher incidence rates.
Dr. Gary Anthone, chief medical officer for the state, said there have been 636 positive cases in residents in long-term facilities and 552 cases in staff. He said 152 of 496 facilities have had a positive resident or staff member. There have been 113 deaths, with one death pending validation.
The state has been keeping track of data from long-term care facilities every two weeks. The most recent data shows that 16 new residents have tested positive, along with 15 staff members. There has been one new death, and nine new facilities that have been affected.
There have been a total of 4,596 confirmed cases, 18 deaths and 208 hospitalizations of workers at meat processing plants. Anthone said the rate of infection is starting to slow down.
As race-ethnicity data shows that minority populations are disproportionately impacted, the state is taking steps to ensure that all Nebraskans are getting information and medical attention.
They’ve held separate Spanish language broadcasts of Ricketts’ weekly press conferences. They’ve also published educational videos in English, Spanish, French, Arabic, Somali, and other languages.
“We have focused our plans on at-risk communities and evolved our food processing plants, which have a lot of Hispanic folks that are working in those facilities,” Ricketts said.
The state is also offering food processing workers a place to stay if they don’t feel comfortable going home because there’s somebody at home with coronavirus, or they don’t want to bring it back to the home.
The governor said that the state is working with healthcare clinics that serve minority populations to increase education and “to be able to reach out and do testing.”