LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts said during a press conference Monday that hospitalizations fell to under 800 over the weekend, but urged residents to not let their guards down with COVID-19.
The decrease places Nebraska in the yellow zone of the State of Nebraska Directed Health Measures color phase, meaning there are more than 20 percent of staffed hospital beds available. Daily hospitalizations across the state had been over 800 since early November.
The governor thanked Nebraskans for their efforts to slow the spread of the virus. A COVID-19 survivor spoke of his experience developing COVID-19 with his wife, highlighting the fact that symptoms may be severe for one person and mild for someone else.
Ted Carter, the President of the University of Nebraska, also provided updates on how the university system is doing during the pandemic. President Carter said the University of Nebraska was one of the first universities to say they planned to be open in the fall after closing in the spring. He said the fall semester has been exceptional across the system and thanked the governor and legislature for supporting them.
The university system made some specific steps to ensure re-opening would be successful, focusing on affordability, attainment and keeping a keen eye on safety and staff of students. The University of Nebraska saw a growth in enrollment according to President Carter and online programs grew by 18 percent. Hybrid programs also grew.
President Carter added that the university system plans to have in-person classes despite the infection rate. He said campuses are looking at supplying COVID-19 tests for staff and students returning to campus in January to ensure safety. The flagship campus for mass testing would be UNL with slight differences at UNO and UNK. Officials are working through the logistics of who would supply the tests and how testing will be conducted.
Changes to the academic calendar helped better serve students and foster a safer environment across campuses. The change also allowed for a winter mini session of classes at UNL with 1,300 students enrolled in roughly 60 courses so far.
Additionally, Gov. Ricketts extended an executive order Monday that allows doctors and nurses to come from other states and waives requirements for licensure on healthcare workers.
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