OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Throughout the pandemic, Gov. Pete Ricketts has been asking Nebraskans to follow simple advice: stay home when sick, social distance and wear a mask. As the state has struggled to control the spread of the coronavirus, it seems Ricketts himself has ignored the advice of White House experts.
For months, the White House COVID-19 Task Force has been issuing a weekly report to Ricketts, breaking down the numbers and giving recommendations on how the state should be moving forward.
Days after Omaha put in place a mask mandate, which Ricketts had said he would sue the Douglas County Health Director over, the White House recommended that the mandate in both Lincoln and Omaha stay in place.
Just a week later, on August 23, the task force suggested that every county with 20 or more cases be put under a mask mandate.
The following month on September 13, the White House warned that a statewide mandate was needed.
"Without statewide mask requirements, Nebraska will continue to stay at high levels of community transmission in rural and urban areas," the recommendation read.
The next week they said, "Ensuring mask utilization statewide will prevent unnecessary transmission and deaths in vulnerable communities."
When asked why he did not follow the experts' suggestions months ago, Ricketts said he was doing what was best for Nebraska.
“We have directed health measures in place that require masks when you’re going to be in a business and be closer than 6 feet for 15 minutes or more," Ricketts said. "We have taken steps to limit gatherings and so forth. We are putting together a plan that is right for Nebraska, and that’s what every state is doing, and that’s what we’ve done here in Nebraska.”
Since September, the White House has emphasized the need for citizens to wear masks, but is no longer suggesting a mask mandate.
In last week’s report to the governor, the White House did warn that Nebraska is in the red zone when it comes to cases, test positivity and community transmission.
READ ALL THE WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 TASK FORCE REPORTS TO NEBRASKA