Governor Launches “Final Drive” Against Virus

Governor Pete Ricketts launched a “new” 21 day drive, asking Nebraskans to focus on social distancing, personal hygiene, and all the factors believed to limit the spread of the Covid 19 virus.  The Governor said the next 21 days are expected to bring about the peak of the epidemic.  His instructions included staying home as much as possible, making sure that everyone is “socially distant” by maintaining a six foot distance from other people wherever possible.  Also, shopping as little as possible, making a list, and going once a week.  He also urged Nebraskans to help children, help their older neighbors and relatives, and exercise to stay healthy.

“Every Nebraskan has the ability to be a part of this fight” said the Governor. “This is not a shelter in place order” he added.  “This is about doing what is right.  Just do the essential things when you go out.”

In addition to the three week drive, the Governor also issued an additional “Directed Health Measure” statewide that will close salons, gentlemen’s clubs statewide, and prohibit group sports for the next several weeks. “We’re trying to make that more consistent across the state to limit the spread of the virus” he said.

Health care workers, those in law enforcement and first responders will be getting additional help for lodging after work.  “If you don’t want to go home, maybe somebody there is sick” check with your employer first.  He also released a toll free number that can be called 24 hours a day by either category of public service agency.  Employers, he said, will also be asked to set up arrangements to allow alternate lodging for their employees.  The number that can be called by employees who need State help to find isolated lodging is 833-220-0018.

Additional efforts are also being devised to help keep the virus out of long term care facilities.  In person training provided by the University of Nebraska Medical Center will be utilized for infection control surveys, webinars, and in-person training.

The Governor’s “21 days to stay home and stay healthy” also includes expanded testing in Kimball and Scottsbluff.  Testing has increased in Kearney and Grand Island this week.

The State’s Chief Human Resources Officer, Jason Jackson, told reporters that steps are being taken to find ways for more State Employees to work remotely.  We have received 250 more laptops this week, and we’re expecting 1,000 next week, so that we can maintain essential business services while allowing our teammates to work from home where possible.”  Jackson said about 30 percent of the state’s workforce is currently working remotely.