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Gov. Ricketts urges consumers not to overbuy groceries as second community spread case announced

Posted at 2:02 PM, Mar 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-18 22:52:48-04

LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) - Gov. Pete Ricketts has announced a second community spread case of coronavirus in Omaha.

More information on the second community case was released Wednesday afternoon. Overall, there have been 24 total coronavirus cases in Nebraska.

The second community spread case of coronavirus in Omaha means schools will almost certainly be shut down for 6-8 weeks.

Ricketts says they’ll soon ask restaurants to go to take-out and delivery only. Bars will close.

Ricketts tells people to not over buy groceries, just buy two weeks worth, in case you need to quarantine.

"Don’t get months and months, you don’t need that, don’t overbuy,” says Ricketts.

Kathy Siefken with the grocery industry says there’s no food shortage. Due to mass buying, there is a shortage of paper products.

"We are working on trying to fill up the supply chain, or pipeline, on those items, but that will take a little bit to get those items back,” says Siefken.

She says 70 percent of products normally in grocery stores are in currently in them. Siefken says local grocers and warehouses are looking for employees and they are in need of truckers to haul food.

Siefken says do not bring an entire family to grocery store, just one shopper. She urges to keep a six foot distance from customers and staff. She also says don’t bring re-usable bags, just use new store plastic bags.

Zoe Olson from the restaurant industry encourages the public to support local restaurants, especially restaurants in Omaha, which will be carry-out/delivery only.

"Our wait staff, who rely on tips, well they can become delivery drivers, and still receive those tips. And by the way, when you do carry out and go through the drive-thru, you can leave a tip, it’s okay, we’ll take your money,” says Olson.

Daycare owner and former Nebraska state senator Theresa Thibodeau says if you can stay home and watch your kids, to do so. She says that will open up daycare spots for other children.

Ricketts says there is no plan to defer property tax or state income tax payments but that could change depending on the federal government.

According to Ricketts, 500 Nebraskans have been tested but the state is still looking to increase capacity.

Ricketts says the primary election is still set for May 12 and there are no plans, as of yet, to go to a mail-in-only system.

The governor encourages landlords to not serve eviction notices during this uncertain economic time.

Olson, with the restaurant industry, says owners need to get creative: delivery, curbside pickup, etc.

Ricketts says daycare owners need to prioritize children with parents in healthcare, government, transportation, and other essential industries.

Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert is scheduled to hold a press conference about the second community-spread case of the coronavirus at 4:15 p.m. We will have it live on our website, on the 3 News Now app for mobile and streaming devices and on our Facebook page.