Ricketts Warns Tougher COVID Rules Ahead If Voluntary Guidelines Are Ignored

Gov. Pete Ricketts is imploring residents to follow Nebraska’s voluntary coronavirus safety guidelines as the number of new cases and hospitalizations surge to record levels.

      Ricketts told a news conference yesterday that the state is monitoring the numbers and could issue more directed health measures or DHMs such as social distancing mandates next week if the numbers continue to grow.

       Chief State Medical Officer Dr Gary Anthone joined the governor and warned that Nebraska needs to reduce the number of cases to avoid overwhelming hospitals. 

        Dr Anthone pointed out that COVID-19 hospitalizations rose 43 cases 3 weeks ago, 92 cases 2 weeks ago, 178 last week, and are on track to increase by another 170-200 this week – adding that “It’s obvious we’re headed in the wrong direction.”

       Anthone urged people to avoid crowded places, wear masks if they can’t socially distance, and to avoid indoor spaces with poor ventilation.

       Education Commissioner Matt Blomstedt also took part and urged parents not to schedule alternate gatherings if school events, like homecoming dances, are cancelled because of pandemic concerns.

      Nebraska passed 78,000 cases of COVID-19 on Thursday while continuing to set new records for active cases and hospitalizations. 

       There were 2,124 new cases confirmed along with 5 deaths, shooting the number of active cases to 29,447 including 698 who are hospitalized. 

        Nebraska has had 78,012 confirmed cases, 674 deaths, and 45.658 recoveries since the start of the pandemic. 

       The percentage of available hospital and ICU beds rose slightly to 28% and 29% respectively while respirator availability stayed at 71%.