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Gov. Ricketts Highlights the State’s Work to Promote Safety and Well-Being at Long-Term Care Facilities

Media Contacts:  

Taylor Gage, 402-471-1970

Justin Pinkerman, 402-471-1967


Media Release:

Gov. Ricketts Highlights the State’s Work to Promote Safety and Well-Being at Long-Term Care Facilities



Gov. Ricketts (podium) speaks at this afternoon’s press briefing.


Video from today’s briefing will be available after 6:30 p.m. by clicking here.


Governor Press Release 5.15.2020 - SPANISH.pdf 

LINCOLN – Today, at his daily coronavirus briefing, Governor Pete Ricketts highlighted the State’s work to support long-term care (LTC) facilities during the pandemic.  He previewed a new tool being developed by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to help LTC facilities assess and improve their preparedness planning. 


Becky Wisell, Interim Deputy Director of Health Licensure and Environmental Health for the Division of Public Health at DHHS, joined the Governor today.  She detailed the State’s ongoing efforts to assist LTC facilities in mitigating the spread of the virus.


Chris Mehaffey, Scout Executive of the Mid-America Council of the Boy Scouts of America, gave an update on the Scouts’ activities to serve Nebraskans with food insecurity.  He invited Nebraskans to participate in the “Scouting for Food” drive that is collecting supplies for food banks tomorrow (May 16th).


Gov. Ricketts: Test Nebraska

·       We continue to encourage people to take the assessment.

·       As a reminder, Lincoln, Omaha, Norfolk, and Lexington are testing today.

o  More mobile testing sites will be announced in the near future.

·       Again, I want to remind people, scheduling for testing has been filling up quickly.

o  More testing slots will be opening up, so we encourage people to be patient.

o  Test Nebraska testing is by appointment only.  Don’t just show up to the testing site.

o  You need to take the assessment at and then work to schedule a time.


Gov. Ricketts: Long-Term Care Facilities

·       Our seniors are one of our most vulnerable populations, and they have been hit especially hard during the pandemic.

·       We have been asking Nebraskans not to visit long-term care facilities at this time.

·       As we work to get back to a more normal life, we are partnering with long-term care facilities to develop plans to protect their residents.

·       Similar to meat processing facilities, Shelly Schwedhelm and her team from UNMC are touring LTC facilities to help improve their social mitigation efforts.

·       The State will be asking every LTC facility to submit a plan to protect their residents and keep their facility running.  We are in the process of developing a template to help facilities create their plan.  

·       We expect to deliver this template to LTC facilities in the next week or so.


Becky Wisell: Long-Term Care Facilities

·       Care for residents in LTC facilities is a top priority for DHHS.

·       We’ve been working closely with LTC facilities, Local Health Departments, and other partners so that they can continue to provide quality care to residents in their communities.

·       Our role is as a resource to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

·       DHHS has developed a long-term care COVID-19 response planning tool.

·       This is a tool to assist nursing homes and assisted-living facilities in the development of a comprehensive COVID-19 response plan.

·       The tool covers key areas that facilities should consider in their planning, such as:

o  Rapid identification and management of ill residents.

o  Visitation policies.

o  Supplies and resources.

o  Infection control and disinfection protocols.

o  Surge capacity for staffing.

·       The tool also includes helpful information such as:

o  Mental health resources for residents and staff.

o  Guidance on how to request personal protective equipment (PPE) from the State.

o  Additional resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

·       The tool can be used to self-assess strengths and weaknesses of current preparedness efforts.

·       It can also provide guidance for circumstances that may not yet have occurred at every facility.

·       Every facility is expected to complete a plan.  Once the plan is completed, facilities should send an email notification with the facility’s name and license number to

·       The State will send out the long-term care COVID-19 response planning tool to LTC facilities in the near future.


Chris Mehaffey: Boy Scouts of America Food Drive

·       The Scouts’ Mid-America Council has put together a “Scouting for Food” drive.

·       This is a time of unprecedented need for food banks.  For example, the Food Bank for the Heartland has seen its need go up more than 40%, on average, in recent weeks.  Meanwhile, incoming donations have fallen dramatically.

·       That’s why Scouting for Food is especially important this spring.

·       On average, we collect more than 300,000 meals each year.

·       Boy Scouts canvassed communities last week to provide information about the food drive.

·       In those neighborhoods, we’re requesting that households do the following:

o  Put food in a plastic sack, knot it at the top, and leave it at the end of your driveway by tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m.

§  Food should be non-perishable, such as canned goods, macaroni, peanut butter, and jelly.

o  If you do not want to leave food outside, please visit a participating Hy-Vee or food bank to drop off your donation.

§  Drop-off locations are listed on our website (click here to view).

o  If you’re unable to take part in tomorrow’s food drive, consider going to Food Bank for the Heartland’s website ( to make a monetary donation or to volunteer to pack meals. 


Gov. Ricketts: National Guard Flyover

·       The Nebraska Air National Guard plans a flyover salute to healthcare professionals and all Nebraskans responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Weather caused the postponement of the flyover originally planned for earlier this week, but it has been rescheduled for Monday, May 18th.

·       Nebraskans are encouraged to view the flyovers from the safety of their homes or workplaces while practicing physical distancing.  Anyone working in and living around these facilities should have no problem seeing or hearing the aircraft.

·       Watch the National Guard’s Facebook page for more information:


Full video of today’s press briefing will be available after 6:30 p.m. by clicking here.