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Associated Press

Nebraska officials are growing concerned that the closure of schools, widespread job losses and social isolation could be driving an uptick in child abuse cases. Stephanie Beasley, the director of Nebraska’s Child and Family Services Division, says the new coronavirus pandemic is putting a major strain on the families her agency serves. Beasley says the pandemic is making it more difficult for children to get social services and for parents to get substance abuse treatment and counseling.

Nebraska State Patrol troopers have ramped up their efforts to ensure that residents are following the state’s new social distancing rules to fight the coronavirus but haven’t yet issued any citations. A Nebraska State Patrol spokesman says the agency hasn’t ticketed anyone as of Monday afternoon, although troopers are able to do so under new restrictions that were expanded statewide on Friday. Patrol spokesman Cody Thomas says a trooper kept watch over a recent “cruise night” in Crete, but didn’t see any violations.

A group of doctors has urged Gov. Pete Ricketts to impose stricter measures to limit the spread of COVID-19, just as the state reported 40 new cases of the coronavirus. Ricketts has imposed restrictions on the number of people allowed to gather in one place and has closed bars and restaurants. But the Republican has resisted following the course of leaders in most other U.S. states by imposing a stay-at-home order. Forty-five doctors from Grand Island on Saturday published an open letter warning "the incidence is going to increase dramatically ...

Gov. Pete Ricketts is defending his refusal to issue a stay-at-home order for residents, arguing that it isn’t necessary for Nebraska even though 40 other governors have done so to try to keep the new coronavirus from spreading. Ricketts says he doesn’t plan to deviate from his current approach, which includes a statewide, non-enforceable recommendation that residents avoid gatherings with more than 10 people.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced cancellation of May graduation ceremonies at the state's four University of Nebraska system campuses. Officials say the Lincoln campus intends to hold an online event, and the May graduates have been invited to attend August, December, May 2021 ceremonies or other future commencement. University of Nebraska at Omaha graduates will be recognized through an online streaming commencement on May 8. The Kearney campus plans to combine commencements for spring and summer graduates on July 31.

Omaha World Herald

An Omaha drive-thru clinic that had been sidelined is now ready to test people for the new coronavirus. The Omaha World-Herald reports that the city of Omaha’s planning department on Friday issued a new permit to allow the clinic through April 3. The clinic was initially postponed when the city revoked its first temporary use permit, citing public safety concerns. Mayor Jean Stothert had said at the time that the clinic would overburden Omaha police who would have to provide traffic control.

Gov. Pete Ricketts is urging Nebraska residents to quarantine themselves for at least two weeks if they've recently traveled anyplace that has seen a big outbreak of the new coronavirus, including major U.S. cities. Ricketts is issuing the new precaution as state officials try to keep the virus from spreading, but he says he won't order any tougher restrictions than those already in place. He says residents should quarantine themselves for 14 days after returning home from a hard-hit foreign country or cities such as Denver and Kansas City, which have issued stay-at-home orders.

Nebraska lawmakers have advanced an $83.6 million emergency funding package to help fight the new coronavirus as Gov. Pete Ricketts sought to assure the public that the state is “well ahead of the curve” compared to others in its response to the global pandemic. The new funding bill sailed through a key procedural vote in the Legislature with no lawmakers dissenting.

Shoppers across Nebraska and the nation are having trouble finding enough toilet paper as they hunker down to avoid the spread of the new coronavirus. But some people in Nebraska are finding it — and stealing it — at Interstate 80 rest stops. The rest areas are managed by the state Transportation Department. A spokeswoman told the Lincoln Journal Star that some are staffed and some are not. The rest areas will be closed as a result of the thefts when an attendant is not present. The spokeswoman says truck parking should remain open even if the rest area buildings are closed.

Public health officials in Omaha have confirmed a second coronavirus case whose origins can't be traced. In addition to that “community spread” case discovered in a 46-year-old man, Douglas County health officials said three other travel-related cases have been confirmed in the Omaha area. The news comes as Nebraska officials scramble to increase the number of tests they can conduct each day. Gov. Pete Ricketts said Wednesday that roughly 500 people have been tested so far. The state now has 28 confirmed cases including 24 in the Omaha area.

Nebraska Health and Human Services says Nebraska residents who were on the Grand Princess cruise ship were flown back to the state yesterday.  They had been quarantined at a military facility after the cruise ship docked off the coast of California because coronavirus cases were identified on the ship.  The state says the individuals will self-quarantine for 14 days and be monitored by their local health department upon returning home.  Meanwhile, Nebraska Medicine says a teen from Crofton who tested positive for the coronavirus and was being treated in a biocontainment unit has been disch

Omaha Public Schools will remain closed indefinitely to help limit the spread of the new coronavirus. The Omaha district had earlier announced plans for temporary closures that would extend spring breaks to about two weeks, but officials said Monday there now isn't a tentative date to resume classes. District administrators said they will evaluate health conditions every two weeks and consult with local and state officials as they determine when to reopen. The move followed Nebraska Commissioner of Education Matt Blomstedt's request that schools make plans to cancel classes.

Kearney Hub

Gov. Pete Ricketts has limited public gatherings to 10 people in an effort to keep the coronavirus from spreading, even though it's likely to mean painful economic times and major disruption to people's lives. Ricketts' announcement will force the cancellation of events statewide and many businesses will shut their doors as people hunker down to try to avoid catching COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. He says he was aligning the state with recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Lincoln Journal Star

Visitors to Nebraska prisons will have to answer questions about their possible exposure to the new coronavirus as part of an effort to keep staff and inmates from getting infected. The Department of Correctional Services says visitors will still be allowed, as long as they are deemed a low risk. But Director Scott Frakes warned that the policy could change quickly. Visitors, volunteers, contractors and others will be asked to confirm that they are symptom-free, verify if they have had contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 and if they have traveled recently by plane.

Federal courts in Nebraska are nixing all jury trials and grand juries for the rest of the month in a move to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, state courts in Iowa and Nebraska are taking some precautions. An order from Nebraska's Supreme Court chief justice says those at elevated risk of transmitting COVID-19 are barred from attending trials. In Iowa, state courts may conduct meetings and hearings remotely. For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough.

UPDATE (03-20-20): Three New COVID-19 Cases Confirmed in Douglas County Three travelers are the latest confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Douglas County.  The Health Department (DCHD) reports these three individuals recently returned from areas in the Southeastern United States where COVID-19 is circulating. They are two men in their 40s and a woman in her 30s. These three individuals traveled to different areas and the cases are not connected.

Nebraska lawmakers are set to take a four-day recess, but they may extend the break to reduce the risk of a coronavirus outbreak at the state Capitol. Speaker of the Legislature Jim Scheer said Thursday that lawmakers were still tentatively planning to reconvene as scheduled on Tuesday, but they may temporarily suspend their session if health officials confirm a community-spread case of the virus in Lincoln during the break.

Nebraska lawmakers have given initial approval to a $9.4 billion, two-year state budget that shovels millions of extra dollars into the state’s rainy-day fund amid fears about the global pandemic caused by the new coronavirus. Lawmakers had already planned to boost the state’s cash-reserve fund after three years of lagging tax collections and tight budgets, but the worldwide panic had many of them warning that the state could face more trouble. The new budget would boost the cash reserve to $731 million by the end of the current two-year budget cycle in June 2022.

Nebraska school officials say they're limiting spectators to the state boys basketball tournament to players' immediate family. That news comes on the heels of two more Nebraska residents testing positive for COVID-19, bringing the Nebraska total to five. A Douglas County woman who recently traveled to California and Nevada was added Tuesday. She's recovering at home. The state's fifth case is a 16-year-old student from Crofton High School in northeast Nebraska who attended the state girls basketball tournament in Lincoln last week.

Supermarket chain Hy-Vee is closing four centers that fulfill online orders in Missouri, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska, putting several hundred people out of work. Christina Gayman, a company spokeswoman, said in a statement that fulfillment centers couldn't provide the “full assortment of products, personalized shoppers and same-day pickup" that customers wanted.

Nebraska has moved a step closer to creating a new state commission focused on African American affairs, similar to existing groups that represent Latino Americans and Native Americans. The measure won first-round approval in the Legislature Wednesday on a 32-0 vote. The new, 14-member commission would meet quarterly and be allowed to hire an executive director. Commission members would receive $50 a day while performing commission duties, plus expense reimbursement. The bill by Sen.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Health officials say two more Nebraska residents have tested positive for the new coronavirus disease, bringing the Nebraska total to five. A Douglas County woman was added to the list Tuesday. Officials say she had recently traveled to California and Nevada and is recovering at home. State officials say a person from northeast Nebraska will be treated at the Nebraska Biocontainment Unit on the University of Nebraska Medical Center campus in Omaha. It's unclear whether the case is travel related or related to any of the other four cases.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has told Bellevue University and other schools that it intends to disapprove the enrollment of new GI Bill students. The VA said Monday the schools have given erroneous, deceptive or misleading information to prospective students. The sanction wouldn't affect current GI Bill students. The university says the VA warning stems from a state allegation that school promotional material misled prospective students about the accreditation status for its Bachelor of Science in nursing program.

Nebraska lawmakers will debate a new bill to lower property taxes as early as next week after a legislative committee endorsed it. Members of the Revenue Committee voted 6-1 in favor of the bill, which would provide roughly the same $520 million boost to Nebraska's K-12 public schools as an earlier proposal that stalled last month. Schools are the biggest consumers of local property tax revenue in Nebraska, and the bill would offer them the additional money along with tighter controls on their ability to tax and spend.

A Republican state lawmaker in Nebraska who has criticized President Donald Trump and accused the GOP of enabling racism has launched a new website to try to change the party's current views on unions, guns and climate change. Sen. John McCollister, of Omaha, unveiled a new website dubbed “Republican Redefined." The website lays out what McCollister describes as conservative arguments for public education, prison reform and a strong social safety net, among other issues. It also highlights Nebraska's one-house, officially nonpartisan Legislature and the senator who fought to create it.

Nebraska lawmakers have taken a major step toward increasing transparency and accountability in state-run juveniles homes following an outbreak of violence, vandalism and escapes. Lawmakers on Tuesday gave initial approval to measures that would require state officials to create a long-term operations plan for how to safely run the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Centers in Geneva, Kearney and Lincoln.

Nebraska officials are asking dozens of people who attended the Special Olympics basketball tournament last week in Fremont to self-quarantine. A news release Saturday from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services says the woman diagnosed with COVID-19 spent most of Feb. 29 at the Fremont Family YMCA, where the tournament was held. Health officials are asking the tournament's players, coaches and team staff members to self-quarantine and monitor themselves for symptoms of the virus until March 14.

The Plattsmouth school district in eastern Nebraska has joined schools in Fremont and Hooper in canceling classes as a precaution against the spread of a new virus that originated in China. The district says classes and activities will be canceled Monday through Thursday. Classes already weren’t planned for Friday. The Omaha woman with the state’s first confirmed case of COVID-19 participated in a Special Olympics basketball tournament in Fremont on Feb. 29. Plattsmouth Community Schools said one of its students attended the tournament.

ABC News

Gov. Pete Ricketts is warning that Nebraska could be dealing with the coronavirus outbreak for the next nine to 12 months, and he's urging the public to take precautionary steps to keep it from spreading. Ricketts says the number of known cases in Nebraska has risen to three, but there aren't yet indications that it's spreading within communities. The three people diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, are a 36-year-old Omaha woman and her father and brother.

Rainbow trout will be stocked later this month and in April at lakes and city ponds across the state. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission says the trout are about 10 inches in length. The rainbow stockings begin Monday at the Bridgeport State Recreation Area, at Terry's Pit in Terrytown and the Scottsbluff zoo pond. Other stocking points include Auble Pond in Ord, Steinhart Park East Pond in Nebraska City and Such's Lake in Grand Island. For more fishing and stocking information or to purchase a fishing permit, go online at the commission website, outdoornebraska.gov.

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