Nebraska - COVID-19 Covered

Nebraska

Total Cases: 12,619 (May 27)
Tests Administered: 88,042 (May 25)
Fatalities: 153 (May 27)
Testing:
  • Group testing for COVID-19, first used by Nebraska Public Health Laboratory Director Peter Iwen in March, has been identified as a potentially effective way to conserve testing supplies nationally. (May 26)
  • Nebraskans have reported issues with the state’s newly launched TestNebraska initiative. Despite eligibility for testing, citizens have had issues scheduling tests and the phone number provided on the initiative’s website was reportedly not working. (May 15)
  • 20,000 Nebraskans have registered in the state’s new coronavirus testing initiative, TestNebraska. (April 24)
  • Governor Ricketts issued an executive order enabling healthcare facilities to expand capacity by waiving time limits for how long Critical Access Hospitals and Ambulatory Surgical Centers may keep patients, waiving the time limit on complex nursing interventions in assisted living facilities, modifying the training and testing requirements for nurse aides, medication aides, and dining assistants, among other measures. (March 31)
  • Governor Ricketts issued an executive order to bolster the healthcare workforce by authorizing credentials for retired or inactive health professionals who want to serve during the COVID-19 emergency. (March 27)
  • The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services announced that it was giving power to doctors to diagnose COVID-19 based on symptoms and screening instead of using lab confirmation as supplies for COVID-19 laboratory testing could not meet demand. (March 19)

ECONOMIC RESPONSE

Essential Service Designations:

  • Retailers like pharmacies, grocery stores, and home improvement stores are not expected follow The White House guidelines to limit their establishments to 10 people or less because, “generally, customers of these businesses are not in close proximity to one another,” per the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. (March 16)

Labor & Workforce Guidance, Standards and Regulations:

  • Governor Ricketts announced that the state would begin relaxing business restrictions on May 4. These loosened restrictions include the resumption of religious services, weddings, and funerals, with restrictions. Tattoo parlors, hair salons, and massage studios will also be allowed to reopen, and childcare centers will be allowed to have 15 children per room, up from 10. (May 1)
  • Governor Ricketts issued an executive order to allow online notary services to take place and to provide regulatory flexibility to banks. (April 1)
  • Governor Ricketts hosted a Facebook Live event to discuss ideas on flexibly continuing business operations during the COVID-19 outbreak, such as offering drive-up service to customers, delivering to customers, and modifying day to day operations. (March 24)

Economic Stimulus & Relief:

  • Governor Ricketts and State Economic Developer John Goins announced that the state will be launching a task force to provide guidance on best practices for businesses that are ready to re-open. Certain businesses in the state, such as restaurants and salons, can re-open in some areas beginning May 4. (April 29)
  • Governor Ricketts issued an executive order (EO 20-17) that waived personal property tax penalties and interest until December 31. (April 9)
  • President Trump approved Nebraska’s disaster declaration. (April 4)
  • CMS approved Nebraska’s request for a Section 1135 Medicaid waiver, enabling Nebraska to provide flexibilities in Medicaid provider screening and enrollment, forgo certain pre-admission screening and annual resident review assessments, among other measures. (April 2)
  • The Governor’s wife announced the Nebraska Impact COVID-19 Relief Fund, which aims to help individual communities meet their local needs, through financial assistance for rent, mortgage, and utility payments; provisions for food pantries; or supplies for students from low-income families now studying from home. (April 2)
  • Nebraska is rolling out unemployment programs incorporated in the CARES Act, including Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, and Short Time Compensation Programs. (March 30)
  • Governor Ricketts signed Nebraska’s COVID-19 Relief Package. (March 25)
  • Nebraska’s Attorney General joined 32 other states in asking online retailers Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Walmart and Craigslist to prevent price gouging on coronavirus-related products. (March 25)
  • Governor Ricketts issued an executive order to prevent evictions of Nebraskans significantly impacted by the coronavirus who are unable to pay rent. (March 25)
  • Governor Ricketts said Nebraska will follow the federal guidelines of extending the tax deadline to July 15. (March 23)
  • Governor Ricketts announced he is requesting $58.6 million in emergency funding from the Nebraska Legislature in order to combat COVID-19. (March 20)
  • Governor Ricketts issued an executive order to permit the loosening of various eligibility requirements for unemployment insurance benefits filed between March 22 and May 2 by workers affected by COVID-19. (March 17)

Business Support & Resources:

  • Governor Ricketts announced that Nebraska bars would be able to reopen on June 1 as long as they operate at no more than 50% capacity, with patrons at tables spaced out by at least 6 feet and no one sitting at the bar. Governor Ricketts also announced that the limited attendance of public gatherings will be increased from 10 to 25 on June 1. (May 22)
  • The Nebraska Department of Economic Development, the University of Nebraska, and the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce & Industry released a survey that asks business owners and nonprofits whether they plan to cut staff, what their top concerns are and whether they plan to seek federal assistance, among other questions. (April 16)
  • Governor Ricketts ordered the closure of all salons, tattoo parlors, and strip clubs and announced the cancellation of organized group sports until May 31. (April 10)
  • Governor Ricketts issued an executive order to expand childcare access by activating nonprofits, faith-based organizations, and schools. (March 26)
  • Governor Ricketts announced eligibility of Nebraska businesses to apply for SBA disaster loans. (March 25)
  • Governor Ricketts signed LB 1198 to provide emergency funding for purchasing much-need personal protective equipment (PPE), expanding staffing for local Public Health Departments and State’s Public Health team, covering overtime costs and additional for veterans’ homes and state care facilities, University of Nebraska Medical Center equipment and systems, and $25 million in flexibility for the Governor’s Emergency Fund. (March 25)
  • Governor Ricketts announced that the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued a statewide economic injury declaration for Nebraska, qualifying small businesses throughout the state to apply for SBA disaster assistance loans. SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer low-interest rates and long-term repayment options, and specific terms are determined on a case-by-case basis. (March 20)

SOCIAL RESTRICTIONS

Shelter-In-Place Orders:

  • No records found as of May 26.
  • A group of 45 doctors wrote an open letter to Governor Ricketts begging him to take stronger action to prevent infections and deaths in the state. The letter urged him to issue a stay at home order. (April 7)
  • Governor Ricketts announced the state entered into an agreement with the University of Nebraska System to provide quarantine housing. (April 2)

Curfews:

  • No records found.

Social-Distancing Guidelines:

  • Governor Ricketts issued Executive Order 20-24 extending public meeting restrictions until June 30, 2020. (May 20)
  • Governor Ricketts urged citizens residing in heavily restricted areas of the state to refrain from visiting areas that have had social distancing requirements relaxed in order to prevent further spread of the disease. (May 5)
  • Governor Ricketts addressed his intention to ease social distancing requirements in a press conference, stating that the state will begin to ease requirements despite the recent surge in central counties. Governor Ricketts stated that the government did not intend to shutter meat processing plants within the states. (April 28)
  • Governor Ricketts stated that Nebraskans should not expect a relaxation of social distancing rules after May 1. (April 21)
  • Nebraska State Senators Steve Halloran of Hastings and Steve Erdman of Bayard wrote an op-ed urging Governor Ricketts to lift social distancing requirements and urging the governor to promote herd immunity rather than social distancing. (April 14)
  • Governor Ricketts dismissed the senator’s demands. (April 14)
  • Governor Ricketts issued a state-wide Directed Health Measure limiting gatherings to 10 people. (April 3)
  • Nebraska’s Game and Parks Commission prohibits people from overnight camping at state parks, state recreation areas, and wildlife management areas to combat the spread of COVID-19. (April 3)
  • Governor Ricketts directed health measures for several counties forbidding gatherings of 10 or more people and mandated those who show COVID-19 symptoms to home-quarantine for a minimum of 14 days. (April 1)
  • Governor Ricketts extended statewide social distancing restrictions through April 30. (March 30)
  • Governor Ricketts emphasized that travelers returning to Nebraska should self-quarantine for 14 days if they are coming back from abroad or from domestic locations where cases of COVID-19 are widespread, such as Chicago, Denver, Kansas City, New York City, San Francisco, or Seattle. (March 24)

Delivery Services:

  • Governor Ricketts signed a proclamation to designate every Tuesday from March 31 through the end of April 2020 as “Takeout Tuesday.” (March 30)
  • Governor Ricketts directed health measures for several counties restricting liquor, beer, and wine sales to carry-out only and restricting food establishments to carry-out, drive-thru, and delivery only. (March 29)
  • Governor Ricketts issued an executive order allowing restaurants and bars to provide mixed drinks with lids for takeout. (March 26)
  • Governor Ricketts signed an emergency declaration that allowed him to issue an Executive Order to waive certain hauling requirements for truckers delivering food and supplies, such as food products to grocery stores. (March 13)

SCHOOL CLOSURES

K-12:

  • Nebraska Education Commissioner Matt Blomstedt announced that the state’s public schools “should be able” to open in time for the coming school year. (May 8) 
  • Governor Ricketts issues executive order 20-20 that announced the waiving of student learning and reporting for the 2019-2020 school year. (April 21) 
  • Governor Ricketts ordered Nebraska schools to remain closed to students through May 31. (April 2)  
  • The Nebraska Department of Education recommends that all schools remain in alternate learning environments, with no students reporting to schools, through the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. (March 26)  

State Higher Education:

  • The three Nebraska State College system schools have joined the four University of Nebraska system campuses in canceling May graduation ceremonies, citing public health concerns. (April 1)

Produced by Marathon Strategies, an independent PR firm that delivers intelligent communications and research solutions. For information, email Phil Singer at COVID-19@marathonstrategies.com