Gov. Ricketts Highlights Progress on Partnership with Omaha Communities on Coronavirus Response
LINCOLN – Today, Governor Ricketts provided an update on the State of Nebraska’s efforts to help communities in Omaha combat coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Since early May, Governor Ricketts has been engaging leaders in North and South Omaha during the current public health emergency to help slow the spread of the virus.
“Throughout the country, our minority populations have been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus ,” said Governor Ricketts. “We are working with leaders in communities of color throughout the state to ensure all Nebraskans have access the health care, education, and resources for this public health emergency. Thank you to the leaders in North and South Omaha for working with the State to help address the issues that are most prevalent in their communities.”
The ten-point plan includes the following initiatives:
· Data Reporting: Tracking health data related to coronavirus based on race, ethnicity, and geography across the State.
o The State is working with local public health departments to track cases by race and ethnicity in statewide data reporting.
· Access to Care: Working with health care leaders in the community and with the State of Nebraska to ensure that no one is denied coronavirus related health services.
o Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has been working with healthcare providers in the community to assure them that they will be reimbursed for coronavirus related expenses. The Governor’s Office is working with community leaders to inform the public that testing is free even if an individual does not have health insurance and that no one will be denied treatment for coronavirus because of an inability to pay.
· Supporting Community Providers: Providing resources through healthcare facilities in North and South Omaha.
o The State is engaging directly with Charles Drew and One World Health to ensure testing and other resources are being provided to the community.
· Testing: Expanding testing in Omaha.
o In addition to working with community federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), the State is deploying Test Nebraska testing sites in Omaha to increase testing capacity and assist in alleviating the burden on local healthcare providers in the community.
· Masks: Increasing availability of masks for the community.
o DHHS and Governor’s Office are partnering with community leaders to increase messaging regarding the importance of wearing masks when out in public.
· Tracking Funding: Providing and tracking State and Federal coronavirus related funding for North and South Omaha.
o The State is working with Omaha leaders to establish a guideline for tracking coronavirus related funding as it relates to the communities of North and South Omaha.
· Corrections: Updating the community on the State’s plan to prevent spread of coronavirus in the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS).
o NDCS Director Scott Frakes participated in a call with Omaha leaders to address their concerns regarding the virus’ impact on the State’s correctional system.
· Unemployment: Assuring timely response regarding unemployment applications.
o Nebraska Department of Labor (NDOL) Commissioner John Albin and NDOL have improved access to unemployment benefits by contracting with North End Teleservices to create a new call center for unemployment benefit claimants, with multiple bilingual customer service representatives available. NDOL has provided additional access to the unemployment program by teaming with Metro Community College (MCC) to create an access point at the Fort Dodge campus of MCC.
· Public Awareness: Collaborating with the Omaha community to expand messaging and education regarding coronavirus.
o The Governor’s Office has been working directly with the Black Media Collaborative/North Omaha Media Collaborative to deploy coronavirus messaging as part of a month-long communications campaign. The Governor’s Office is also working with Spanish media outlets to get messaging to those in which English is not their primary language.
· Future Growth: Partnering with leaders to address long-standing economic and health issues in North and South Omaha.
o Governor Ricketts has directed Nebraska Department of Economic Development Director Tony Goins and DHHS CEO Dannette Smith to work closely with the communities of North and South Omaha to address these issues. To date, task forces have been established that involve state, local, and industry leaders to focus on both of these areas.
Governor Ricketts continues to urge Nebraskans across the state to sign up at TestNebraska.com to take the simple, five-minute health assessment. Nebraskans at risk of exposure to the virus will then be contacted to schedule an appointment to get tested.