By Governor Pete Ricketts
May 25, 2021
Governor’s official photo here.
The coronavirus pandemic has been a long journey, but through it all Nebraskans have pulled together to keep people healthy. On March 6, 2020, Nebraska reported its first positive case of the coronavirus. Over the last 15 months, Nebraskans have made many sacrifices. We have spent time apart from each other, figured out how to manage schools and businesses, and worked hard to slow the spread of the virus to protect our hospitals.
As our state grappled with the new virus, Nebraskans stepped up and did the right thing. Schools, churches, and businesses adjusted their operations to slow the spread. Families prioritized the health of loved ones at greater risk from the virus. In communities large and small, Nebraskans took care of their neighbors.
These actions helped us successfully preserve our hospital capacity throughout the pandemic. Nebraskans have had access to hospital beds, ICU beds, or ventilators whenever they needed care. We’re now down to 74 coronavirus hospitalizations in Nebraska, which represents less than 2% of our hospital capacity. Coronavirus hospitalizations are at their lowest point since we began tracking them statewide over a year ago in April 2020. More than 915,000 Nebraskans have now received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. To date, we’ve administered over 1.65 million vaccine doses.
As vaccinations rise and hospitalizations fall, Nebraska is returning to normalcy. On Monday, I held my last coronavirus briefing, and we ended all remaining Directed Health Measures—including quarantine requirements. I also signed an executive order to rescind many of the emergency executive orders that I had issued during the pandemic. At the State, we’re discontinuing our temporary remote work arrangements and getting all of our State teammates back into the office. I am urging all organizations, public and private, to drop pandemic restrictions, including mask requirements.
Nebraska’s approach to the pandemic has helped our state achieve great public health and economic outcomes. The Kaiser Family Foundation finds that Nebraska has one of the lowest coronavirus fatality rates in the nation. Nebraska had the sixth-highest rate of kids in schools during the 2020-2021 academic year. And our state has achieved the lowest unemployment rate in the United States. We’ve been able to keep people healthy while also helping keep people working and our kids in school along the way.
As life returns to normal, it’s time to reconnect with one another to make sure we don’t lose the things that make Nebraska great. For generations, our strength as a state has come from Nebraskans who are involved in their churches, communities, and schools. Let’s reengage with the people, places, and activities that were disrupted by the coronavirus as we emerge from the pandemic. Take the time to consider how you can reconnect with the people you love and the organizations you’ve served over the years. Nebraska Impact has assembled a list of nearly 150 organizations in search of volunteers at www.nevolunteers.com. I invite you to view the available opportunities and find a way to contribute your time and talents. Now is also a great opportunity to visit loved ones at nursing homes and assisted-living communities as visitation policies become less restrictive.
As life returns to normal, there are lots of exciting places to explore and events to visit this summer in Nebraska. The College World Series will be back at 100% capacity, and Omaha will also welcome fans to the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials in June. The Big Rodeo in Burwell is celebrating its 100th anniversary July 28th-31st, and Lincoln is hosting the Nebraska High School Finals Rodeo from July 18th-24th. Festivals, fairs, and fireworks—such as Seward’s Fourth of July celebration—will be back in full swing. Across the state, businesses have resumed normal operations, and they’re welcoming back customers. I encourage Nebraskans to support our restaurants, parks, farmer’s markets, museums, and bed and breakfasts this summer.
The Nebraska Tourism Commission is once again sponsoring its popular Nebraska Passport Program. It kicked off on May 1st and runs through the end of September. Last year 1,188 people stamped their passport at all 70 stops! I invite you to join in the fun and to submit your stamped passport to win prizes. You can order a passport and learn more about this year’s participating locations at nebraskapassport.com. As you travel the state, you can dine on the best Nebraska beef through the Good Life Great Steaks Beef Passport Program. To get a passport and view a list of restaurants taking part in the program, go to goodlifegreatsteaks.org.
Nebraska’s people make our state the best place in the world to live, work, and raise a family. Let’s reconnect with one another in the coming weeks to celebrate the Good Life as we put the pandemic behind us. As you plan your summer adventures, check out places to go and things to do in the Cornhusker State at visitnebraska.com and outdoornebraska.org. If you have any questions about traveling in Nebraska, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 402-471-2244.