62 More COVID-19 Deaths In Neb; Ricketts Defends Ignoring Call For Mask Mandate Posted by John Axtell Date: December 02, 2020 661 Views Nebraska Health and Human Services recorded another 62 COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, bringing the state total to 1,080. The number of hospitalized cases dropped back under 900 again, falling 38 from Monday to 869 – solidly below the 1,060 that would trigger stricter health measures threatened by Gov Pete Ricketts The percentage of available hospital beds dropped 3 points to 28%, ICU beds went down 5 points to 24%, and ventilator availability slipped a point to 67%. There were 1,787 new cases and 490 recoveries to drive the number of active cases to 64,139. There have been 130,194 total cases and 64,975 recoveries so far. Governor Ricketts acknowledged Monday that the White House coronavirus task force recommended a statewide mask mandate for Nebraska multiple times starting last spring. Ricketts defended his approach of no mandate but frequent reminders to wear masks as better tailored for Nebraska than a “cookie cutter” plan treating every state the same. Ricketts maintains that a full mask mandate could generate a backlash that might lead to even less mask usage as a protest against being ordered to wear them.