Ricketts Rebuffs Erdman Call To Open Schools And Businesses

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) – Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts is rejecting a call from two state lawmakers, one of them from the Panhandle, to end coronavirus rules and resume normal school and business activities right away.

Ricketts says he will stick with the state’s current plan, which includes statewide school closures and restrictions on businesses and social gatherings until at least April 30.

State Senator Steve Erdman of Bayard and Steve Halloran of Hastings, both conservatives who have strongly supported the governor most of the time since taking office in 2017, made their call in a newspaper column.

Ricketts on Monday told both his daily coronavirus update and his monthly radio call-in show that while he agrees with the senators “100%” about the need to reopen schools and businesses as soon as possible, coming back too soon could lead to a surge in new cases that might overwhelm the state’s hospitals as happened in New York.

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Ricketts said there are still so many unknowns about the coronavirus that he’d rather err on the side of caution rather than risk a spike in cases.

The senators argue the shelter-in-place orders across the U.S. have devastated the economy, put students at a disadvantage, and “made the cure worse than the disease.” They warn if Nebraska continues its policy, “civil unrest will eventually ensue.”

Erdman and Halloran contend that lifting the restrictions and allowing healthy people to contract the virus would create a “herd immunity” that would protect society as a whole.

Epidemiologists and other public health experts say that approach would lead to a surge in coronavirus cases and deaths, but the senators – both in their 70s – say while “all life is sacred and valuable,” things need to get back to normal.

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