Mayor Stothert on Omaha's COVID-19 Response

26 minutes ago
Emily Chen-Newton/KIOS

Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert sat down (at a safe distance) with KIOS Station Manager Ken Dudzik on Tuesday, April 7th for a conversation about the city's response to the coronavirus pandemic and how that response has impacted the day-to-day lives of citizens. The discussion was driven by listener questions, and you listen to the entire interview below.

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.

Associated Press

Law enforcement across Iowa have the ok to crack down on people not practicing social distancing.  On Monday Governor Kim Reynolds approved penalties against Iowans for gathering in large groups.  Des Moines police say charging people for gathering in groups of ten or more will be a last resort.

Drive-Thru Covid-19 Testing Site Open At UNO

4 hours ago
Omaha World Herald

A new drive-through coronavirus testing site is opening on the University of Nebraska Omaha campus.  The site will be available only to people with a lab testing order from a Nebraska Medicine provider.  Testing will take place on campus lots M and N daily between 8:00 a.m. and noon. 

LLCHD Suggests Mask Use As Covid-19 Cases Rise In Lincoln

4 hours ago

More than a dozen new COVID-19 cases are reported in Lincoln.  The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department announced yesterday that an additional 13 cases had been confirmed.  Six of the cases involve community spread, four of the cases are travel-related and three cases are under investigation.   Thirty-one COVID-19 cases have been reported in Lancaster County since the pandemic began.

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 ...

Creighton To Close Campus In Response To Outbreak

Apr 6, 2020

Creighton University is closing its campus because of the COVID-19 outbreak.  The campus will be off-limits to students, staff, faculty and visitors starting tomorrow.  Only critical employees will be allowed to report to campus.

The number of coronavirus cases in Nebraska is increasing.  As of last night, there were 368 confirmed COVID-19 cases and eight deaths statewide.  Douglas County has seen the highest number of coronavirus cases in the state with 145. The "Omaha World Herald" reports that Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts spoke with Grand Island and Hall County officials during a conference call yesterday and promised state support during the pandemic.  Hall County has seen the second-most COVID-19 cases in the state with 45.

On Tuesday, April 7th, starting at noon, KIOS will host a one-hour question and answer discussion with Omaha Mayor, Jean Stothert.  We invite listeners to submit questions for the Mayor in writing before Tuesday.

Governor Pete Ricketts announced yesterday that the University of Nebraska is opening up dorm rooms for COVID-19 patients who need to be quarantined. The governor says about 21-hundred beds are being made available at the university's campuses in Lincoln, Omaha and Kearney. Governor Ricketts said the dorm rooms can be used by patients unable to quarantine at home or who are recovering from the virus.

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.

April Sheds Light On Need For Child Abuse Awareness

Apr 3, 2020

(Omaha, NE)  --  April is Child Abuse Awareness Month.  In 2017 the state says there were over 35-thousand total referrals for child abuse with 13-thousand referred for investigation.  Omaha police are asking people to support the Project Harmony Pinwheels for Prevention Program.  Police say Project Harmony is in need of extra help this year because of the COVID-19 restrictions.  Project Harmony served over four-thousand child victims of abuse in the community last year.

Omaha Parks And Recreation is reminding residents that parks and trails are open. Closed signs are currently being installed at each of the city's 197 park playgrounds, and signs limiting users to 10 at a time are being placed at dog parks. Entrances to large parks will bear signage about social distancing and prohibiting large gatherings.  All city-owned sports complexes will be closed and OPR is notifying youth sports leagues and associations who use city fields that practice and games will not be permitted at this time.

Grand Island police are making policy changes due to the COVID-19 outbreak.  The police department is asking the public to report minor crimes online on the department's website.  The change is being made in an effort to promote social distancing.  Crimes eligible for online reporting include those that do not require an emergency response and incidents with little or no evidence at the scene.


Omaha World Herald

A former meteorologist is being charged after he allegedly made online terrorist threats to Douglas County Health Director Dr. Adi Pour. Officials say 57-year-old Ronald Penzkowski [[pens-cow-ski]] was booked into the Douglas County Jail on charges of terroristic threats and stalking related to the coronavirus pandemic. The Douglas County Sheriff's Office says they're currently investigating threatening emails that Penzkowski allegedly sent under a hidden identity.

A Council Bluffs ethanol plant is doing its part to stop the spread of coronavirus.  Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy says it will use some of its 200 proof alcohol to produce hand sanitizer.  Plant officials say they worked with the FDA and Iowa officials to get regulations lifted in order to make the sanitizer.

Gov. Pete Ricketts is issuing a stern warning to try to pressure Nebraskans into taking steps to keep the coronavirus from spreading, but reiterating that he won't impose a stay-at-home order as at least 31 other states have done. His comments came as the number of confirmed Nebraska cases rose to 215 as of this morning, with five people dead. New cases have continued to surface daily, with 33 confirmed Wednesday afternoon, up from 25 the previous day and 17 on Monday.

(London, England)  --  Kansas City's Jack Sock, a Lincoln, Nebraska native, is a two-time Wimbledon doubles champion, but he won't be playing this summer in London.  The Wimbledon Championships will not be played this year for the first time since 1945 because of the coronavirus pandemic.  The tennis tournament was to begin June 29th and run through July 12th.  "Devastated," eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer tweeted.  In addition, the ATP and WTA made a joint announcement all events of both pro tours have been canceled through July 13th, covering the entire grass-court season.

In planning for the potential impact of COVID-19, the City of Omaha and Waste

Management have agreed to limit yardwaste collection to 4 cans/sacks per household. This limit in yardwastecollection will remain in effect until further notice. The City would like citizens to abide by these limitsimmediately however April 6th the City will be enforcing the limitations.

Citizens may sign up for e-mail notification of impending solid waste collection holidays or service delays bygoing to

Parking Enforcement Suspended In Omaha Following Outbreak

Apr 1, 2020

Park Omaha is suspending parking enforcement operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Park Omaha will no longer write tickets for expired parking meter violations until further notice. Officials say curbside pick-up locations are being approved as needed with no fees for business requests. Officials say enforcement will remain for violations of time restrictions, handicapped parking, blocking streets, sidewalks, alleyways, and fire hydrants.

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.

A new study is predicting hundreds of Nebraskans could die from the coronavirus during the pandemic.  According to the University of Washington study, nearly 450 people in Nebraska could die from COVID-19 complications.  The study also indicates that by late April, Nebraska could see 13 COVID-19 related deaths per day and the state would need 202 ICU beds to treat patients.

Nebraska Tops 150 Coronavirus Cases; Third Related Death

Mar 31, 2020

Nebraska health officials are confirming the state's third coronavirus-related death.  The person who died from COVID-19 is a Lincoln County man in his 90s who had underlying health conditions.  As of yesterday, there were 153 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state.

Methodist Hospital Launches Emotional Support Line

Mar 31, 2020

An Omaha hospital is launching a new tool to help residents during the coronavirus pandemic. Methodist Hospital has created a new phone line to offer mental and emotional support. The Methodist Emotional Support Line is available at 402-815-8255 and is staff is available on the line from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.

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.

Nebraska Coronavirus Total Tops 120

Mar 30, 2020

The number of coronavirus cases in Nebraska is growing.  The Douglas County Health Department confirmed nine new cases yesterday, while Sarpy and Cass counties reported two new cases. The city of Lincoln also confirmed two new cases on Sunday, and officials say they were travel-related. There have been 120 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Nebraska and two deaths.

Teachers are parading through the streets in Omaha to wave at their students through their windows. Erin Rathe [[rath]] is a preschool teacher at Ashland Greenwood Public Schools. She says she led the nearly 60-car parade of teachers wanting to see their students. Rathe said it was all smiles as teachers passed by their students' homes. She says the interaction was also heartbreaking because students and teachers have strong connections and are now separated because of the coronavirus pandemic.


HyVee is paying its employees extra for working more during the coronavirus outbreak. HyVee says employees who work between March 16th and April 12th will receive a ten-percent pay increase as a thank you. The company also updated its benefits package with job-protected leave for employees who need to self-quarantine and access to tele-health services. Co-pays for full-time employees will also be waived and two-weeks of paid disability could be available for those enrolled.

CHI Health Begins Coronavirus Testing

Mar 27, 2020

CHI Health says they will begin testing for COVID-19. The company says it will be able to complete between 180 and 270 tests per day with a one to two day turnaround. A spokesperson says the tests will be given at CHI Health clinics and hospitals, and testing will be first available to those most at risk. This will start with critically ill patients along with exposed healthcare and EMS workers.


Lincoln Journal Star

Thirteen new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Nebraska yesterday, bringing the total number in the state to 81. New cases were reported by Sarpy and Douglas counties, and officials in Omaha say a police officer and firefighter have tested positive for the virus. The Omaha Police Department says the officer recently went out of state, and has self-isolated since he returned.