Stay Home. Stay Healthy. Stay Connected.
By Governor Pete Ricketts
April 9, 2020
Governor’s official photo here.
The next several weeks will be key to slowing the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Nebraska. The virus is expected to peak in Nebraska during the next month. We can expect more recorded cases as testing expands, and additional deaths as we approach this peak period.
As we wage war against the virus, we are asking Nebraskans to further limit social interactions. Everyone should work, go home, and shop once a week. We all need to stay home whenever possible, stay healthy, and stay connected.
Each one of us has to take personal responsibility for adhering to social distancing rules. Stay six feet away from other people. Do not gather in groups of more than ten people. By working together, we can flatten the curve and slow the spread of the virus.
Currently, we have several social distancing restrictions in force statewide. On April 3rd, I announced that the State’s Directed Health Measure (DHM) now extends to all 93 counties. Among other things, the statewide DHM:
- Imposes an enforceable, 10-person limit on public gatherings.
- Requires restaurants and bars to close their dining areas and move to takeout, delivery, and/or curbside service only.
- Prohibits medical and dental elective surgeries and procedures.
- Requires schools to operate without students through May 31, 2020.
- Cancels all school-related extracurricular activities through May 31, 2020.
- Requires individuals to home quarantine for at least 14 days if:
- They have tested positive for COVID-19.
- They have a fever of 100.4° F or above.
- They have experienced a sudden onset of a cough and/or shortness of breath.
- They reside or have resided with individuals who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 or have the above symptoms.
- NOTE: the quarantine directive doesn’t apply to patients who have an alternative non-COVID-19 diagnosis from a healthcare provider, such as COPD or seasonal allergies.
Some local health departments (LHDs) have imposed additional restrictions within their jurisdictions. Nebraskans should closely monitor the latest news from their LHDs. Information on Nebraska’s health departments—including maps, websites, and contact information—can be found at dhhs.ne.gov/CHPM%20Documents/contacts.pdf.
As Nebraskans celebrate Easter and Passover this week, I remind everyone to heed the restrictions on social gatherings and comply with quarantine requirements. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has issued guidance for faith-based communities as they practice social distancing and support public health efforts. You can view it here: dhhs.ne.gov/Documents/COVID-19-Faith-Based-Communities-FAQ.pdf.
Over the weekend, President Trump approved the State’s request for federal assistance by declaring a major disaster in Nebraska. This decision will enable the State and local governments to tap into federal funds as we work together to protect Nebraskans from the virus.
Additionally, I’m thankful to Nebraska’s federal delegation and the Trump Administration for passing a $2.2 trillion stimulus package (the CARES Act) to aid Americans who’ve been affected by the pandemic. I encourage our state’s businesses to take advantage of the payroll tax deferment, tax credits, emergency grants, and disaster loans included in the stimulus. Many of these benefits are available to self-employed Nebraskans as well. For advice on applying for assistance, please visit the Nebraska Department of Economic Development’s (DED’s) COVID-19 webpage: opportunity.nebraska.gov/nded-covid19. You can also call DED’s business support line at 800-426-6505. The Small Business Administration (SBA) is available to help as well. Visit sba.gov or call the Nebraska District Office at 402-221-4691 for assistance.
Before the pandemic hit, Nebraska businesses often talked to me about their difficulty finding quality workers within our competitive labor market. I urge these businesses to be forward-thinking right now and to make every effort to retain their teammates. Once the economy rebounds, they’re going to encounter a renewed need for great people. The Short-Time Compensation (STC) program is one way employers can manage their costs without having to go through layoffs. The Nebraska Department of Labor has information on the STC program at dol.nebraska.gov/stc.
While the pandemic continues, we must never forget the heroic efforts of public health leaders, medical professionals, healthcare workers, and blood donors who are helping us win this war. Courageous individuals at grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants, food processors, and trucking companies are ensuring us continued access to critical food and supplies. Leaders in schools and places of worship have found creative ways to meet our educational and spiritual needs. Everyone is doing their part to defeat the virus, and I appreciate the sacrifices Nebraskans are making to help slow the spread to protect our healthcare system.
As we enter our toughest month yet, we all need to redouble our efforts to practice social distancing and good hygiene. Since there is no vaccine, non-medical interventions remain our most powerful weapon to defeat COVID-19. To stay up-to-date on the latest information, I encourage you to subscribe to updates at www.Governor.Nebraska.gov. Together, Nebraska will get through this, and we will get back to growing stronger and better than ever before.