LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts and other officials stressed the importance of taking COVID-19 seriously in a press conference Thursday as cases rise in the state.
Gov. Ricketts said there are currently nearly 700 people hospitalized in Nebraska with coronavirus, urging people to avoid the three C’s: crowds, close contacts and confined spaces.
Nebraska Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gary Anthone said we’re definitely seeing a record number of hospitalizations in the state with widespread increases over the last three weeks.
“It’s obvious we’re headed in the wrong direction,” said Dr. Anthone. He added that Nebraskans need to band together to stop cases from rising and that the actions we take now can impact how the state fares in the future.
The governor said that schools need to stay open and that the structured environment benefits kids.
Nebraska Commissioner of Education, Matthew Blomstedt, agreed with the governor about schools, adding that the biggest risk currently is being able to keep enough staff.
Administrative Services Director Jason Jackson also spoke, saying it’s critical that business services continue. He asked businesses to get creative with rotational schedules so there’s no disruption to service.
To help with the difficulties of rising cases, Gov. Ricketts also announced he is submitting an application for maximum SNAP benefits for those on food stamps, after cutting the benefits last summer.
"One of the reasons why we didn't ask for those SNAP benefits in the past is because we were heading back to a path of getting to more normal and was that a mistake? The answer is no. We acted with the information we had at the time which was that we were seeing lower case counts than we were seeing in the spring," he said.
Additionally, Gov. Ricketts said he’s evaluating stricter Directed Health Measures but isn’t implementing anything new right now.
"One of the ways we can avoid tightening down DHM's, is if people follow the rules," he said.
The governor urged people to continue getting tested for COVID-19.
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