Springtime in Nebraska
By Governor Pete Ricketts
March 26, 2021
Governor’s official photo here.
When spring arrives in Nebraska, snow melts, days get longer, and we enjoy the warmer weather and sunlight. It’s refreshing to get outside and resume activities that weren’t possible during the winter months.
This year, the arrival of spring has added significance as we get back to a more normal life after over a year of dealing with the pandemic. Earlier this month, Nebraskans from across the state came to Lincoln to cheer on teams playing in the girls and boys state high school basketball tournaments. On March 1st, UNL announced plans to have an in-person graduation ceremony in May. Last week, we received good news that fans will be allowed to attend Husker sports events such as the spring game and volleyball matches. More and more families have been able to spend time in-person with loved ones at nursing homes. Students are shopping for prom dresses. Neighbors are planning backyard barbecues and parents Easter egg hunts.
It’s uplifting to have more opportunities to hold celebrations and gather with friends and family. Even as spring brings hope of many kinds, we must continue to work together to get vaccine out to communities to protect against the virus. There are still roughly 100 Nebraskans hospitalized around the state with COVID-19. While the numbers of new positive cases rapidly declined across much of the country from December to late February, they’ve hit a plateau over the past month. It’s important for us to stay committed to good health practices. Stay home when sick or if experiencing loss of taste or smell. If you get exposed, remember to quarantine if you’re not vaccinated. Avoid the “Three Cs”—crowded places, close contacts, and confined spaces—and use our familiar tools to slow the spread of the virus. All of these behaviors will help to protect our families and communities.
We can finish strong and end this together by signing up at vaccinate.ne.gov or 833-998-2275 to get the coronavirus shot. As more people get the coronavirus vaccine, we’re building immunity across our communities. This reduces opportunities for the virus to spread. The faster we gain widespread immunity, the more we will see the return of large concerts, athletic competitions, and summer fairs.
More than a half-million Nebraskans have already received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Currently, the State is receiving regular doses of three vaccines: Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses, spaced a few weeks apart. Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine only requires a single shot. They have all been shown to be 100% effective against hospitalization and death from coronavirus.
In our vaccination plan, we gave top priority to doctors, nurses, other healthcare workers, and residents and staff of long-term care facilities (Phase 1A). Once these groups were vaccinated, we began prioritizing vaccination primarily by age. This aligns with our data, which clearly indicates that age is the single biggest factor in determining risk of mortality from coronavirus. In Nebraska, 83% of deaths from coronavirus have occurred among residents age 65 and older, and 94% of deaths have been among those 55 and older.
In Phase 1B, we dedicated at least 90% of vaccines for Nebraskans age 65 and older. The remaining vaccines in this phase were administered to workers in critical infrastructure. Our local health departments have made great progress in this phase, and all of them moved into Phase 2A as of March 22, 2021. In this phase, we’re giving at least 90% of vaccines to Nebraskans 50 and older. The rest of the vaccines in Phase 2A are being used by local health departments to vaccinate Nebraskans identified by area healthcare providers as being at high risk from the virus due to underlying health conditions. We’ve also instructed health districts that they can vaccinate healthy Nebraskans younger than 50 years old if needed in order to administer all of the doses they’ve been allocated.
Our plan is working. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ranks Nebraska in the top five states in the nation for vaccine coverage in counties with high social vulnerability to the virus. As of March 26th, the CDC also ranked Nebraska as 10th best nationally for doses administered per 100,000 adults (18+). We continue to work to get vaccine out quickly to our communities.
Please sign up immediately to get the vaccine and encourage your friends and family to sign up as well. As vaccine supplies increase, we’re quickly expanding access. Some local health departments have already opened up vaccination to any adult in their district. Your turn may be here sooner than you think, so don’t delay signing up.
If you have questions about the State of Nebraska’s coronavirus response, email email@example.com or call 402-471-2244. Again, encourage your friends and family to sign up for vaccination so that we can finish strong and put the pandemic behind us.