The hardest part: It was heartbreaking to learn of the first reported death in Dakota County related to COVID 19. On behalf of me, my family and my office staff, we want to express our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Mr. Raymundo Corral.
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.
Regional. 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.