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Lincoln Journal Star

The number of people getting vaccinated for the coronavirus increased nearly 5% last week in Nebraska. State officials said 48,982 doses of the vaccines were administered last week, up from 46,806 doses the week before. The state is working to speed up distribution of the vaccines. So far, about 4.6% of the state’s population has received both required doses of a vaccine. Nebraska said Monday that it has administered 232,896 doses of the vaccines. The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Nebraska fell over the past two weeks from 849.14 new cases per day on Jan.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Family members say the adult daughter of a former Omaha mayor who had been missing since late last month has died. The Otoe County Sheriff’s office said Friday that it had found Amber Tjaden’s Jaguar SUV in a rural area of the county and a deceased person was found. Authorities haven’t released the identity of the dead person, but family members said Saturday that Tjaden had died. The 48-year-old daughter of former Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle had been missing since Jan. 27.

Siouxland Proud

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration has announced its new special agent in charge of its Omaha Division that covers all of five Upper Plains states. The agency named Justin King as the division head overseeing the division's 11 offices, according to a news release sent Thursday. King began his new duties on Monday, replacing Richard Salter Jr., who retired from the DEA in January. King's territory includes Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota and a handful of counties in western parts of Wisconsin and Illinois.

CNBC

Nebraska will receive $2.59 million over five years as part of a multistate settlement with a firm that worked with opioid manufacturers to promote addictive painkillers. Attorney General Doug Peterson says Nebraska is part of a coalition of 53 attorneys general who collectively won $573 million in a settlement with McKinsey & Company, one of the world’s largest consulting firms. The settlement will be split among 47 states, five U.S. territories and the District of Columbia. The settlement will be used to address problems caused by opioids in the participating states.

FCC Applications

Feb 4, 2021

On January 28, 2021, Douglas County School District 001, licensee of KIOS, 91.5 FM, Omaha, Nebraska, filed an application with the Federal Communications Commission for renewal of license. 

Members of the public wishing to view this application or obtain information about how to file comments and petitions on this application can      visit https://enterpriseefiling.fcc.gov/dataentry/api/download/draftcopy/25076f917679172c0176ceb99d1a4996

Inclusive Communities is a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization. Through their powerful human relations work, they are providing education and advocacy related to the topics of diversity and inclusion.

Dominic Green, Programs & Faculty Manager at Inclusive Communities, took some time to chat with Mike Hogan about the work performed with schools, businesses and the community. He also discusses the critical social justice work and how one can become a volunteer.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Authorities say the adult daughter of former Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle is missing, and the woman's husband was arrested following a confrontation with sheriff's deputies. The Omaha World-Herald reports that 48-year-old Amber Tjaden, of Weeping Water, was reported missing by her daughter and that Cass County Sheriff's deputies who went to Tjaden's home on Jan. 29 found two young boys alone. Deputies say they called Tjaden's husband, 38-year-old Matthew Tjaden, who told them he was out looking for his wife and refused to immediately return.

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.

Vaccines Arrive At Open Door Mission

Feb 4, 2021
Omaha World Herald

The Open Door Mission in Omaha is one of the first homeless shelters in the country to vaccinate staff and residents against the coronavirus.  The Douglas County Health Department and Nebraska Methodist College teamed up yesterday to provide 70 doses at the shelter.  Officials say the Open Door Mission has seen COVID-19 infection rates of less than one-percent among its residents. 

The Longest Day is one of the Alzheimer's Associations signature fundraising events.  Sherri Obermiller, member of The Longest Day planning committee for the Alzheimer’s Association-Nebraska Chapter, sat down with Mike Hogan “Live & Local” to discuss how Nebraskans can register to raise funds by doing the things they love, changes in the fundraising landscape in 2020 due to COVID and social distancing measures, and why she became involved with the Alzheimer's Association.

One can register or get more information at https://act.alz.org/site/TR?fr_id=14244&pg=entry.

KWCH

Meatpacking companies and public health officials are trying to overcome any reluctance workers may have about coronavirus vaccines before they become eligible to get them. Major companies such as Tyson Foods and JBS are encouraging workers to get the vaccine with campaigns to educate them about the benefits and safety of the shots. Also, JBS and Pilgrim’s Corp. are offering $100 bonuses to workers who get the vaccine.

Nebraska Legislature

A Nebraska lawmaker is urging her colleagues to create a state commission to study how to pay for K-12 public schools, an issue that has become contentious as some senators push for lower property taxes. Sen. Wendy DeBoer, of Bennington, says the commission could look for ways to pay for schools other than property taxes while still providing equal educational opportunities to children around the state. The commission would present its preliminary findings back to lawmakers in 2022.

As a part of his four year theme/mission, Dr. Derrick Fox, Director of Choral Activities at the University of Nebraska-Omaha put in place at UNO an initiative entitled” Reflections of Us.”  With this, he works to connect the UNO student community and the Omaha community. This iteration of the mission is subtitled “United in Song.”

What he did was send out a song survey this fall to local retirement homes, since they have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. He asked them to list songs that they connected with great memories and/or family. 

In the “Live & Local” chat with Mike Hogan, Derrick talks about how he made this list available to choral students who chose songs and recorded them. Those performances were then edited together and sent to the retirement homes for their residents to have during the holidays. 

Dr. Fox provided links to preview that initiative as well as others he has led.  The complete two-part interview is also below.

Retirement Home Preview - https://app.vidgrid.com/view/SSQne56cwpkR/?sr=hgCKoS

Professional Choral Collective Lesson Links - https://www.drderrickfox.com/the-professional-choral-collective

Country Music Association Foundation - Unified Voices for Music Education - https://cmafoundation.org/voicesformusiced/

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.

Lincoln Journal Star

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts is self-isolating from the public after he was exposed to someone over the weekend who tested positive for the coronavirus on Monday. Ricketts says he was near the person for longer than 15 minutes on Saturday. He had been scheduled Monday to participate in the Governor’s Annual Wellness Walk around the Capitol to promote fitness, but spoke to reporters instead through a video-conferencing link. Ricketts says his contact with the person who tested positive for the virus was for business and not a social gathering, but he didn't identify the person. 

KMEG

More than 54,000 people signed up for a coronavirus vaccine on the day that Nebraska’s new registration website went live, and state officials are seeking to assure residents that the elderly and vulnerable will still get priority. Officials with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services say the website’s launch on Thursday went smoothly. Nebraska residents can register for a vaccination at vaccinate.ne.gov.

KITV

Governor Pete Ricketts announced on Saturday that Nebraska is moving from the blue phase to the green phase in the state's pandemic response plan. This means indoor gatherings can now reach one-hundred-percent capacity, but events with more than 500 people must write a reopening plan and send it to their local health department. The governor also said any Nebraskans who have been given both doses of the COVID vaccine no longer have to quarantine after a close contact exposure. These residents are asked to self-monitor for symptoms and wear a mask for two weeks.

Pandemic Leads To Split 2021 Swim Trials

Jan 27, 2021
Omaha Sports Commission

The U.S. Olympic Swim Trials in Omaha this summer will be split in half due to COVID-19.  USA Swimming says Wave 1 will be on June 4th through the 7th and Wave 2 on June 13th through the 20th.  The organization says Wave 2 will be the sole qualifier for the Olympic Games in Tokyo.  USA Swimming says the decision was made to reduce overcrowding in the arena and to provide a safer environment for the athletes. 

Omaha World Herald

  Highway safety advocates are urging Nebraska lawmakers to tighten state seat belt requirements that are among the loosest in the nation. The National Conference of State Legislatures says Nebraska is one of nine states that only require seat belts for front-seat passengers. Violations are also considered a secondary offense, meaning police can’t cite someone for not wearing a seat belt unless they’ve stopped the vehicle for some other reason. Sen.

Lincoln Journal Star

Gov. Pete Ricketts is defending Nebraska’s approach to distributing coronavirus vaccines, saying the state won’t redirect doses away from rural areas that are outpacing Omaha and Lincoln with vaccinations. State officials reported Friday that 15 rural public health districts in Nebraska have already finished the first phase of vaccinations, which focused on front-line health workers. Those districts are now vaccinating the next high-priority group, consisting largely of residents who are at least 65 years old.

Omaha World Herald

A major winter storm blanketed parts of the middle of the country with snow that was forecast to continue into late Tuesday in some areas, disrupting traffic and closing some coronavirus testing sites. The National Weather Service said at least 4 inches of snow fell across most of an area stretching from central Kansas northeast to Chicago and southern Michigan. The weather service forecast the light snowfall that began around sunset Monday in northern Illinois was expected to get heavier overnight, accumulation totaling about three to six inches by early Tuesday.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Democratic Party chose a state representative from Ames to lead the party as it works to retain its spot as the nation’s first caucus in presidential elections. Rep. Ross Wilburn was elected Saturday. Wilburn said he will work with national party officials to try and keep Iowa’s traditional role as the first caucus in the country.

Lincoln Journal Star

A mass vaccination event in Lincoln that helped Nebraska record one of its most productive days in its campaign to distribute shots could serve as a model for future events. Health officials in Lincoln said roughly 2,400 health care workers received the vaccine Friday at the event held at the Pinnacle Bank Arena. That helped the state administer 8,701 doses of the vaccine on Friday in what was the second-busiest day of the campaign so far. The state has been averaging about 4,500 shots a day over the past two weeks as it works to speed up distribution of the vaccine. 

Lincoln Journal Star

Nebraska’s chief Supreme Court justice says the courts faced a big challenge due to the coronavirus pandemic but continue to serve the public with the use of technology. Justice Michael Heavican says the pandemic has forced courts to turn to livestreaming and video chatting services to keep proceedings accessible. Heavican says the court’s online payment systems allowed residents to pay traffic tickets and court fines without leaving their homes, and the judiciary also offers an online education system to help judges, lawyers, guardians and others meet continuous education requirements.

Nebraska lawmakers have rejected a new effort to require a public vote when they choose legislative leaders, despite a push from some conservative senators for transparency. Lawmakers voted 30-19 against the motion to change the Legislature’s internal rules. Committee chairs and the speaker of the Legislature are elected through a secret ballot.

Nebraska Association of Public Employees

Nebraska state employees have a new contract that includes pay raises for those who receive a satisfactory rating in their performance reviews. Gov. Pete Ricketts says the contract reflects the culmination of six years of culture changes in state government to become a more performance-based organization. He says the contract will allow state administrators to recognize workers for excellence in work.

Thousands Of Applicants Strain Vaccine Registration Portal

Jan 21, 2021

The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department's online COVID-19 vaccine registration form is experiencing technical difficulties.  The department says the problems are being caused by an extremely high volume of users.  They say as of 8:30 yesterday morning, 100 people were trying to register every second.  As of 9:30 a.m., more than 11-thousand people had registered.  The department says pages may take longer than normal to load, and those who are unable to get through should try again. 

  

WOWT

A 25-year-old Iowa man has been sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for having a Molotov cocktail during racial injustice protests in downtown Omaha last year. Steven Fitch, of Council Bluffs, was sentenced Wednesday in federal court for unlawful possession of destructive device. He will serve three years of supervised release after his prison term. Prosecutors said Omaha police found Fitch with a Molotov cocktail in his front pants pocket during protests on May 31. The device contained a clear liquid inside a bottle with a red rag attached.

Omaha World Herald

The Nebraska Capitol was mostly quiet as President Joe Biden was sworn into office, but there was more security than usual inside the building. Members of the Nebraska State Patrol stood watch inside the building’s public entrances, but business otherwise continued as usual. Outside, three protesters walked around the building’s perimeter waving a Trump 2020 campaign flag and a flag that said, “Biden is not the president.” Lawmakers spent their morning session introducing bills to be debated later this year. 

  

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska’s campaign to vaccinate people for the coronavirus is further along in some rural parts of the state. At least half a dozen health districts across the state have already started giving vaccines to seniors living outside long-term care facilities, the Lincoln Journal Star reported. Officials in Lincoln and Omaha are still working to vaccinate health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities. State health officials have said they expected the campaign to progress at different rates throughout parts of Nebraska.

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