KIOS-FM

department of health and human services

PBS

Nebraska plans to immediately resume using Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine after federal health officials decided the shot’s benefits outweigh a rare risk of developing blood clots. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services announced the decision on Monday. Federal health officials gave the OK to resume using the shots Friday.

Close of of hands wearing purple hospital gloves holding a small box reading "Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine"
NPR


Lincoln Journal Star

Nebraska is losing its top infectious disease expert to the private sector just as the state is working to distribute coronavirus vaccines. Dr. Tom Safranek, who was Nebraska’s state epidemiologist for 30 years, said Wednesday he's retiring to take a job as chief medical officer for Omaha-based corporate health care consultant TotalWellness. Safranek joins the list of at least 181 state and local public health leaders in 38 states who have resigned, retired or been fired since the pandemic began.

Lincoln Journal Star

Nebraska will start issuing emergency supplemental nutrition benefits to people who qualify on Feb. 9. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services says recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP, will get increased money on their EBT cards. The extra assistance comes from the federal government. Recipients saw a boost earlier in the pandemic, but the aid eventually expired. Gov. Pete Ricketts initially declined to renew Nebraska’s request for the benefit as the economy recovered, but reapplied later as the number of virus cases surged.

The interim director of Nebraska’s Division of Developmental Disabilities will assume the job full-time starting next week. Gov. Ricketts Pete Ricketts announced Friday that he has appointed Tony Green, of Omaha, to the position within the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. Green has served as the division’s interim director since March 2020, and previously worked as its deputy director. He replaces Courtney Miller, who stepped down in April to take a new job in the federal government. Green began his career as a services coordinator within the division in 1990.

State health officials announced 416 new cases of COVID-19 in Nebraska yesterday. There are now 29,660 confirmed cases of the virus in the state, and 360 deaths. The Department of Health and Human Services says 36 percent of hospital beds and 80 percent of ventilators are available. Officials at Lincoln Southwest High School announced a positive COVID-19 test in the community yesterday. An email sent to parents did not specify if a student or staff member tested positive, but the freshman football team was told to quarantine.

State health officials announced 332 new cases of COVID-19 in Nebraska yesterday. There are now 27,821 confirmed cases of the virus in the state, and 340 deaths. The Department of Health and Human Services reports 40 percent of hospital beds and 79 percent of ventilators are available. The Omaha City Council is expected to vote on a mask mandate on Tuesday. The council plans to propose an emergency ordinance to put the requirement in place, and needs six of the seven members to vote yes to immediately go into effect.

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.

Two free forums have been scheduled to hear from people with disabilities, their families and their caregivers about their experiences with emergencies or disaster situations.

Nebraska officials plan to cut staff at one state-run home for juvenile offenders while adding to its workforce at two other facilities.