Ricketts Unveils Distribution Plan For COVID-19 Vaccine, Doesn’t Expect Arrive Before Mid-Dec At The Earliest

      Governor Pete Ricketts has unveiled Nebraska’s basic plan for distributing a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available, and it’s a tiered approach that puts health care providers and elderly and vulnerable residents first in line.

      The governor emphasized at a news conference Monday that despite rosy predictions from President Trump, release of any vaccine is probably 2 months or more away.

Ricketts also made it clear that while he’d like to see everyone get inoculated when there’s enough vaccine to make that possible, it won’t be mandatory.

Nebraska will distribute its share of COVID-19 vaccines through the same network that already distributes children’s vaccines across the state. The first phase will target health care and long-term care facility workers.

      The second wave of inoculations will go to long-term care residents, those over 65, people with certain underlying medical conditions, critical infrastructure workers, and vulnerable populations.

       The vaccine plan release came the same day that coronavirus deaths in the state topped 600. There were 46 deaths last week, the highest single week so far, and the CDC is predicting the total will be close to 700 by the middle of next month. 

     About 40% of COVID-19 deaths in Nebraska have been people age 75 or older, even though that age group has accounted for only about 5% of the state’s cases.

        Health and Human Services reported 7 more deaths Monday along with 702 new cases and 315 recoveries. 

      That pushed the number of active cases to another new record at 21,651 – including 427 who are hospitalized, down slightly from Saturday’s record of 436. 

       The availability of hospital beds in the state increased to 35% for all beds and 36% for ICU beds while ventilators stayed at 75% availability.