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Gov. Pete Ricketts says Nebraska could see another flare-up of coronavirus cases because of the demonstrations over the death of George Floyd, but he concluded that allowing protesters to peacefully vent was more important than concerns about the pandemic. His comments came as new, lighter virus restrictions went into effect throughout most of the state. The restrictions approved by Ricketts allow bars, zoos, swimming pools and other public venues to reopen, with crowd limits based on a venue’s occupancy.

A top state health administrator says the coronavirus pandemic appears to be taking a disproportionate toll on Nebraska’s Hispanic, Asian and black residents. Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services CEO Dannette Smith says data compiled so far is startling and state officials need to do more to address the problem. Among the 9,630 infected people whose races are known, Smith says 2,430 were minorities. About 40% of the residents who have been hospitalized with the virus identify as Hispanic, even though that group represents just 11% of the state’s overall population.

State health officials reported one additional death from COVID-19 in Nebraska yesterday. There are now 164 deaths from the virus in the state, and 13-thousand-261 confirmed cases. The Department of Health and Human Services says 41-percent of hospital beds and 79-percent of ventilators are available. Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird announced yesterday that she will allow some local restaurants to expand their outdoor dining areas. Baird said she will take emergency action to give the restaurants the opportunity to increase their capacity while maintaining social distancing guidelines.

Nebraska’s tourism industry has lost millions of dollars in revenue to the coronavirus pandemic and will face major challenges as it tries to recover. Nebraska Tourism Commission Executive Director John Ricks says visitor spending was $152.6 million lower in March than it was at the same time last year. The tourism commission’s revenue from a state lodging tax dropped nearly 60% as well, indicating that hotels and motels were severely hit. Ricks says he’s hopeful that the governor’s recent moves to ease social-distancing restrictions on Monday will help.

Omaha-area hospitals are reporting another uptick in coronavirus patients, but local health officials are still managing the caseloads without any issues. Nebraska Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Gary Anthone, says Douglas County’s hospitals are treating 135 patients, up from 122 last week. But Anthone says the increase hasn’t had much of an impact on the available bed space or ventilators within the hospitals. Among the coronavirus patients is Nebraska state Sen. Mike Moser, of Columbus, who is receiving care at Nebraska Medical Center. Gov.

Nebraska will use its $1.1 billion share of federal coronavirus money to help small businesses, local governments, nonprofits and other groups hard-hit by the pandemic. Gov. Pete Ricketts provided a first glimpse of the state’s plan, which focuses heavily on small businesses and unemployment insurance for laid-off workers. Nebraska will receive $1.25 billion under the federal CARES Act, the emergency law passed to help Americans with the pandemic.

The Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha is set to reopen to the public.  The zoo will open as a one-way walking safari on June 1st with social distancing and enhanced cleaning protocols in place.  Visitors will be asked to wear facemasks, and guests will be required to make reservations on the zoo website ahead of time. The Lincoln Children's Zoo is also reopening June 1st. The Zoo is kicking off its reopening with a Wildlife Walk paving a one-way path through the zoo with visits at many of its outdoor exhibits. Zoo officials said the indoor buildings will remain closed to visitors.

Nebraska is continuing to see an increase in the number of positive COVID-19 cases.  State officials had reported 12-thousand-619 cases and 153 deaths as of yesterday.  There have been more than 33-hundred COVID-19 cases reported in Douglas County, while Dakota County has seen more than 16-hundred cases and Hall County has confirmed more than 14-hundred cases. A ninth COVID-19 related death is reported at the Life Care Center of Elkhorn.

Omaha Clinics Now Able To Test For Coronavirus Antibodies

May 26, 2020

Omaha health clinics can now test for coronavirus antibodies. Doctors at 88-Med in West Omaha told WOWT-TV6 that testing helps health care providers identify if someone was in contact with another person who had COVID-19. Doctors said the testing process takes 15-minutes at the most and results come back within a few days. Medical Directors at 88-Med say the benefit of antibody testing allows state health departments to make more well-informed decisions for the public.

The number of COVID-19 cases is continuing to increase in Nebraska.  As of yesterday, there were 12-thousand-134 cases and 150 deaths reported statewide.  Douglas County has seen the most cases in the state with more than three-thousand. The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing the cancellation of many Memorial Day events in Nebraska.  Annual ceremonies at Memorial Park and Forest Lawn Cemetery in Omaha have been cancelled.  Services at the Omaha National Cemetery have also been called off.  Offutt Air Force Base hosted an online service at 9:00 a.m.

Protections For Renters Will Not Be Extended Past June 1st

May 22, 2020
Knowles Law Firm

A state proclamation to protect renters from eviction amid the COVID-19 pandemic is ending June 1st. Governor Ricketts yesterday said he is not extending the halt on evictions past May because he feels Nebraskans have received a sufficient budget of employment assistance, an extra 600-dollars a month to help people pay their rent. Legal Aid of Nebraska told WOWT that it would have made sense to halt evictions until the end of July when the federal suspension runs out.

Nebraska will let bars, zoos, movie theaters and swimming pools reopen and allow small concerts and auctions to resume on June 1 in all but four hard-hit counties. Gov. Pete Ricketts says he plans to further loosen social-distancing restrictions to strike a balance between public health and the need to move back toward normal life as people grow restless. His announcement came as the number of coronavirus deaths continues to rise. Businesses that do reopen will still face mandatory social distancing restrictions.

State health officials reported five additional deaths from COVID-19 in Nebraska yesterday. There are now 143 deaths from the virus in the state, and 11-thousand-425 confirmed cases. The Department of Health and Human Services says 43-percent of hospital beds and 77-percent of ventilators are available. A sixth resident at the Life Care Center in Elkhorn is dead from COVID-19. The nursing home says 57 residents have been diagnosed with the virus out of 79 who have been tested.

Creighton University has furloughed 190 employees and made several other spending cuts because of the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. Creighton officials said Wednesday they expect to have to cut at least $35 million from the university’s budget to offset declining revenue from tuition and fees. The university said it will suspend its contributions to employee retirement plans on July 1, and top executives will take a pay cut. Creighton said it also won’t pay merit raises this year and will cut discretionary spending.

Nebraska's governor says he's “very pleased” with a coronavirus testing program established by out-of-state contractors. Gov. Pete Ricketts' words of confidence in TestNebraska came Wednesday despite uncertainty that the program will meet a goal of 3,000 tests per day by the month’s end. Nebraska announced the $27 million, no-bid contract with Utah-based Nomi Health and other firms on April 21. The state's chief medical officer says Nebraska tested 1,197 people on Tuesday.

The coronavirus has hurt a vast majority of Nebraska’s businesses and about one in six of them are worried that it will force them to close their doors permanently. That's according to a report released Tuesday by the Nebraska Business Development Center at the University of Nebraska Omaha. The report highlights the sweeping damage caused by business closures and social-distancing measures to keep the virus from spreading. It says 87% of Nebraska businesses have been hurt because of the pandemic.

The number of COVID-19-related deaths is increasing in Nebraska.  The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services reported seven deaths yesterday, bringing the statewide total to 132 since the start of the pandemic.  There have been 10-thousand-846 coronavirus cases reported in Nebraska.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts is warning that the coronavirus pandemic will likely lead to state budget cuts and force lawmakers to water down two of his biggest priorities, including a property tax bill for farmers and homeowners and a new business incentive package. His comments came after lawmakers announced plans to resume their regular session on July 20. It’s not clear whether the property tax or business incentive measures had enough support to pass even before the pandemic.

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.

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