Senator Joni Albrecht
WEEKLY UPDATE April 24, 2020
On Thursday, April 23, 2020, we also learned of the first confirmed case of COVID 19 in a 20-year old on the Winnebago Reservation. Northeast Nebraska Public Health are investigating the contacts related to this case. The Winnebago and Omaha Tribes continue to implement stay-at-home and curfew orders for members of their respective nations.
TestNebraska Initiative and Challenge
This past week, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts rolled out the TestNebraska Initiative, which is a new state initiative to increase the rate of COVID-19 testing as an aid to strategizing the re-opening of Nebraska businesses. This will allow residents to have better access to testing and help slow down the spread of COVID-19, in an effort to get us back to normal as quickly as possible.
To expand its testing capabilities, the State has launched a public-private partnership that leverages the technologies and relationships of a number of companies to help solve limited testing challenges that have been experienced. The initiative will expand testing in Nebraska over the next several weeks.
To prepare for the increased testing, the Governor simultaneously issued the #TestNebraskaChallenge, asking Nebraskans to sign up to take the test by first completing an assessment at www.TestNebraska.com . Testing will be set up in different locations across the state in the next 2 to 5 weeks. The sites will have multiple kits and multiple test options. All individually identifiable information being gathered for the TestNebraska initiative is protected by state and federal law. Aggregate data collected will be shared with the public health departments which are expected to then provide the aggregate data to the National information gatherers.
Governor’s Weekly Live Town Hall
NET is broadcasting a series of COVID-19 town halls with the governor every Thursday at 8:30 PM. Governor Ricketts has a couple of guests scheduled for each week. At this web page, people can ask their questions ahead of time. To ask your question during the program, call one of these numbers: 800-676-5446 or 402-472-1212.
On Friday, April 24, the Governor announced the first steps to re-open Nebraska’s economy.
While stressing that the elderly and medically vulnerable should continue to stay home at this time, he outlined a strategy for implementing relaxed limitations for some businesses and organizations throughout the state.
Douglas, Sarpy, Cass Counties: As an initial matter, the Governor extended the April 30, 2020 deadlines of the State and local Directed Health Measure (DHM) for Douglas, Sarpy, and Cass Counties through May 3rd .
The Governor announced that as of May 4, 2020, the State will have 19 separate Directed Health Measures (DHM) addressing loosening of restrictions related to opening businesses. The DHMs would be in place for each of 19 local health departments and will be effective through May 31, 2020. Businesses affected include salons, nail studios, massage services, tattoo parlors, and childcare facilities. Each business is subject to certain restrictions and social distancing practices.
Northeast Nebraska Public Health Department, which includes Cedar, Dixon, Thurston and Wayne was identified as one of the 19; However, Dakota County Health was NOT included. Based upon current test results and the number of confirmed cases, Dakota County Health is not able to loosen restrictions under its own Regional Directed Health Measure (DHM) and business closings will remain in place.
Statewide: Also announced were May 4, 2020 loosening of restrictions statewide on Places of Worship (churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, etc.). Beginning May 4, 2020, Places of worship, funerals, and weddings, will no longer be subject to the 10-person gathering limitation, as long as: 1) they ensure six feet of separation between different household units, and 2) It will not be permissible to pass items among attendees. A guidance document will be provided with the new DHMs to give instructions to faith communities on how to comply with the updated health measures.
For more information about the Directed Health Measure changes, visit the Governor’s website at www.governor.nebraska.gov
Maintaining the integrity of Nebraska’s health care system remains the State’s top consideration when making decisions about public health measures. Nebraska continues to have ample capacity to care for the state’s residents. As of April 24 th , 48% of hospital beds, 42% of ICU beds, and 74% of ventilators are available for use statewide.
Guard your health.
As a reminder, you can take measures to protect yourself, especially if you are in the vulnerable population.
1. Stay home. No non-essential errands and no social gatherings. Respect the ten-person limit.
2. Socially distance your work. Work from home or use the six-foot rule as much as possible in the workplace.
3. Shop alone and only shop once a week. Do not take family with you.
4. Help kids follow social distancing. Play at home. No group sports. And no playgrounds.
5. Help seniors stay at home by shopping for them. Do not visit long-term care facilities.
6. Exercise daily at home or with an appropriately socially-distanced activity.
Secretary of State Reminder:
Early vote mail-in ballot request
– May 1 The last day to request an early ballot
– May 12 Primary Election, Poles Open and the last day to return your ballot – by close of polls
As of last week, 413,839 ballots have been sent to Nebraska Voters.
I would like to personally encourage you to request your early ballot in order to vote safely from your home.
As always, I invite you to let me know your thoughts, ideas, concerns, or suggestions by contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling my office at 402.471.2716.