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pandemic

KTLA

Nebraska is approaching having 70% of its adult population vaccinated for the coronavirus but the pace of distribution of the shots continues to slow down. The state may be close to President Joe Biden’s goal of having 70% or more of all adults with at least one dose of the vaccine by July 4. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said about 63% of Nebraskans 18 and older had received at least one shot as of Friday, That rate ranks 24th among all the states.

Iowans Prepare To Lose Pandemic Unemployment Benefits

Jun 11, 2021
WeAreIowa.com

Iowans on unemployment will lose their additional 300-dollar federal unemployment payments starting Monday.  Iowans stand on both sides of the issue.  Some say Governor Kim Reynolds is ending unemployment benefits for political gain, while others say Iowans on unemployment need to be more focused on getting a job.  Business Centric Technology says there are currently about 15 percent more jobs available across the country than before the coronavirus pandemic.

Omaha World Herald

Nebraska restaurants can now offer carry-out alcohol permanently under a new state law inspired by Gov. Pete Ricketts’ efforts to help struggling businesses during the pandemic. Ricketts announced that he signed the measure into law. It went into effect immediately. The governor issued an executive order to allow carry-out alcohol in March 2020 to aid restaurants that were struggling financially because of the pandemic and mandatory social distancing restrictions. The order proved popular with the public, and some restaurants reported that it had helped their sales.

Gage County

A Nebraska county that was ordered to pay a $28.1 million legal judgment for sending six innocent people to prison will get $4 million from the state to help pay it off. Gov. Pete Ricketts signed off on the payment on Tuesday, despite raising objections to a 2019 measure that allowed Gage County to impose a half-cent sales tax without voter approval to pay some of the debt. Ricketts says he approved the new law because of the additional economic impact of the pandemic on county residents.

NPR

Mask mandates are expiring in several of the state’s largest cities as more people continue to get vaccinated for the coronavirus. Lincoln’s mask mandate will expire at the end of Thursday, Omaha’s will disappear at the end of next Tuesday and in the Omaha suburbs, Ralston ended its mandate earlier this week. The state has seen infection rates come down as vaccinations have become more widely available. The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Nebraska decreased over the past two weeks, going from 198.71 new cases per day on May 3 to 100.14 new cases per day on Monday.

KLKN-TV

Gov. Pete Ricketts is predicting a return to normal in Nebraska’s K-12 schools by this fall after a year of coronavirus restrictions that included mask-wearing in classrooms and remote learning. Ricketts says the state appears to be in good shape with its vaccination efforts and virus-related hospitalizations, which have now fallen below 100 statewide. He made the comments as he encouraged Nebraska’s new high school graduates to get vaccinated if they haven’t already.

Times Of India

Nebraska health officials said an extremely contagious variant of the coronavirus that was first identified in India has been confirmed in the state. The first case of the virus variant, officially known as the B.1.617 variant, was found in a Lancaster County resident who has ties to international travelers. The discovery of the new variant comes as the state was reporting a relatively small number of new cases of the virus. Nebraska health officials said Wednesday that 1,368 new virus cases had been reported over the past week, down slightly from 1,397 cases the week before.

A sweeping bill that would shield Nebraska businesses and local governments from coronavirus-related lawsuits has won initial approval from state lawmakers, despite some complaints that senators haven’t done enough for workers who were at risk. Lawmakers advanced the proposal, 39-3, through the first of three required votes. The measure would bar pandemic-related lawsuits against businesses or governments as long as they were following federal public health guidelines. At least 29 other states have enacted laws addressing the issue, including 12 that are similar to the Nebraska proposal.

Nearly half of Nebraska’s adult population has now been vaccinated against the coronavirus. The state said Monday that 49.6% of the population aged 16 and up has now been fully vaccinated and more than 1.5 million doses of the shots have been administered across Nebraska. The campaign to distribute the shots continues to make progress across the state although the pace of vaccinations has slowed in recent weeks as demand has weakened.

Nebraska will get roughly $1 billion in aid under the federal government’s plan to help states hit by the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. Treasury Department announced a state-by-state funding breakdown for President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, an effort to restore jobs lost during the pandemic and replenish the coffers of governments that saw huge declines in tax revenue. The plan will distribute $350 billion to state, local, territorial and tribal governments.

OPS Will Be In-Person This Fall

May 7, 2021
KPTM

Omaha Public School students won't have a remote learning option next year. The district says its online program will end in May, and plans are set for a full return to in-person learning in the fall. O-P-S joins other metro school districts like Millard, Bellevue, Westside and Papillion-La Vista in ending remote learning for next school year.

KLKN

State health officials say a south-central Nebraska woman who had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 has died of the disease. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday in a news release that the woman was in her 80s and had underlying health conditions. Officials with Two Rivers Health District, based in Kearney, said the woman lived in the district and was recently hospitalized for more than two weeks well after receiving two doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

Metropolitan Community College

 A Nebraska community college is using federal COVID-19 relief funds to pay for tuition and books for high schoolers from the state to take courses this summer. The Omaha World-Herald reports that officials at the Metropolitan Community College hope their newly approved offer will pull in thousands of students. The college saw about a 15% drop in summer enrollment from 2019 to 2020, said Bill Owen, the college’s vice president for strategic initiatives.

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.

UNL Will Require Spring Graduates To Be Tested For Covid

Apr 23, 2021
UNL

 The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is requiring graduates to get tested for COVID-19. Officials said each grad must test negative one-to-three days before the ceremony, even if they have already been vaccinated. Commencement will take place on May Seventh and Eighth at Memorial Stadium and Pinnacle Bank Arena. 

Omaha World Herald

A U-N-M-C pilot project that tests O-P-S students and faculty showed higher COVID-19 positive rates than what have been previously reported. Researchers say infection rates detected by the program were two-and-a-half times higher for staff and nearly six times higher for students than what was routinely observed. Six O-P-S schools participated in the pilot program in late 2020 and early 2021. 

WOWT

The Omaha economy will get a significant boost from hosting the entire NCAA volleyball championship tournament over the next two weeks. When the NCAA decided to move the entire tournament to the city instead of just holding the Final Four in Omaha, the demand for hotel rooms for the teams and officials jumped from 900 nights to 9,400 nights. The city's convention and visitors bureau estimates that those added hotel rooms alone are expected to generate an $18 million economic impact for the city.

Nebraska residents who have tested positive for coronavirus antibodies in the last three months are no longer required to quarantine if they get exposed to the virus again, but they’ll still have to wear a mask in public. A Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services administrator said Monday that the agency plans to update its public health requirements this week to match new guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Previously, people who were exposed to the virus were required by the state’s health directives to self-isolate at least 14 days. 

A growing number of younger people are being hospitalized with the coronavirus in Nebraska as more contagious variants of the virus spread in the state. Nebraska health officials said the average age of hospital patients declined to 51 in March from 61 in January. Officials said the age is also shifting lower because a significant number of older people have been vaccinated. The number of people hospitalized is also growing and it hit 161 Wednesday as the state reported more cases of the virus.

Amazon

Nebraska colleges and universities are encouraging students to get vaccinated for the coronavirus, but they won’t require the shots before students return to campus in the fall. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the Nebraska State College System and the state’s largest private colleges all said this week that they have no plans to require students or staff to get vaccinated. UNL spokeswoman Leslie Reed said the university believes the shots are a good idea but it won't mandate them.

Nebraska's COVID-19 vaccination eligibility opened to everyone in the state over the age of 16 yesterday, as positivity rates and hospitalizations are going up.  Governor Pete Ricketts says the number of people hospitalized with the virus rose last week after 18 weeks of decline.  He also says the state's positivity rate is above five percent for the first time in eight weeks. Last week, there was a 64 percent increase in cases in Douglas County compared to the previous week among people between the ages of 40 and 59. There was also a 58 percent jump in cases among people ages 20 and 39.

Supermarket News

Nebraska will not participate in a vaccine passport program.  That's according to Governor Pete Ricketts, who made the announcement yesterday afternoon.  Ricketts says a vaccine passport program would go against the "freedom of movement and healthcare privacy." 

Nebraska 4H

Despite being much smaller than normal because of the coronavirus, last years Nebraska State Fair ended with nearly $1.8 million profit. That was an improvement of more than $1.5 million from the 2019 fair. An annual audit found the 2020 fair had revenue of $6.5 million, down nearly 37% from the previous year. But because the fair had no carnival and paid entertainment, expenses were only $3.7 million, about $7 million less than 2019. Auditors said with other factors considered, the fair had a net profit of about $1.8 million, compared to a nearly $1.5 million loss in 2019. 

Fremont Tribune

Nebraska will move to its next coronavirus vaccination phase today with a focus on residents who are 50 to 64 years old and those with certain health conditions. Gov. Pete Ricketts says the change will apply to the entire state, unlike previous phases where the transition has taken place by public health district. Under the new phase, 90% of doses are required to go to residents in the 50-to-64 age group or people who qualified under previous phases. The remaining 10% will go to people with health conditions that are chosen by local doctors and public health officials in each region.

BBC

Nebraska health officials say a variant of the coronavirus first found in Brazil has been found in Omaha. The Omaha World-Herald reports that the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services has confirmed two people in Douglas County have tested positive for the so-called Brazil P.1 variant. That strain is believed to be responsible for a surge in hospitalizations in Brazil even though many people there had already developed COVID-19 and made antibodies against it.

Covid Emergency Remains In Effect For Lincoln

Mar 16, 2021
Lincoln Journal Star

The city of Lincoln's COVID emergency declaration is staying in place.  City council members voted six-to-one yesterday against a motion to end the emergency.   Lincoln's emergency declaration has been in effect since March 2020, and supporters say it allows cities to get resources including personal protective equipment and reimbursement from the federal governor in a shorter period of time.

More than 250,000 people have signed up for a coronavirus vaccination on Nebraska’s official registration website, but state officials say they want more and urged residents to add their names. State officials want residents to sign up online at vaccinate.ne.gov or through a toll-free hotline at 833-998-2275. The state is currently working to vaccinate residents who are at least 65 years and older, but the next phase will focus on people ages 50 to 64 and those with certain underlying health conditions.

Covid Variants Now Confirmed In NE

Mar 10, 2021
NBC

Nebraska health officials continue to identify more cases of different variants of the coronavirus in the state. The state said Monday that five cases of the variant first identified in the United Kingdom and 14 cases of a variant first identified in California have now been confirmed. Both of those variants of the virus are believed to be more easily transmitted. State officials said they expect to receive 82,430 doses of the vaccines this week.

Loessfest Cancelled Again

Mar 9, 2021
loessfest.com

An annual celebration in Council Bluffs is cancelled for the second year in a row.  City officials have announced that the Loessfest celebration has been called off again.  Council Bluffs Mayor Matt Walsh says the event was cancelled because officials weren't sure where the city would be by Memorial Day of this year, and acts must be booked several months in advance.  Loessfest has been held at Council Bluffs' River's Edge Park since 2013. 

Omaha World Herald

Roughly 5,000 teachers from the Omaha area received their coronavirus vaccine shots this weekend. The Douglas County Health Department held two large vaccination clinics Saturday at Millard North and Omaha North high schools to distribute doses of the new Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine to educators. Tim Royers, president of the Millard Education Association, praised the mass vaccination effort. Royers said he’s optimistic all educators in Douglas County could be vaccinated by the end of next weekend. 

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