More Guard members deployed for virus than 2019 flood

Gov. Pete Ricketts said 393 Nebraska National Guard soldiers and airmen have been working on the state’s pandemic response, more than the 329 that were mobilized to help with the historic 2019 floods.
Natl Guard

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska has officially dispatched more National Guard members to respond to the coronavirus pandemic than it did during last year’s record-setting, statewide floods, state officials said Wednesday.

Gov. Pete Ricketts said 393 Nebraska National Guard soldiers and airmen have been working on the state’s pandemic response, more than the 329 that were mobilized to help with the historic 2019 floods.

The Guard has established six mobile testing teams that have worked in 29 different Nebraska cities, including the hard-hit areas of the state, where they’ve helped public health officials administer coronavirus tests. Guard members have collected 11,162 coronavirus test samples so far, about 30% of the total gathered in Nebraska.

“We’ve not ordered anyone into duty,” said Major General Dayrl Bohac, the state’s adjutant general. “They’re raising their hands and want to be there.”

Bohac said Guard members are also at the state’s two new TestNebraska testing sites in Grand Island and Omaha, and have helped package and deliver food for food banks in Omaha and Lincoln.

He said other members are working at University of Nebraska dorms that are being used to house people with the coronavirus who need to isolate or are still recovering after a hospital stay.

Ricketts highlighted the Guard’s accomplishments during his weekday coronavirus news conference, saying they’ve been critical to the state’s response.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the work they’re doing,” he said.

Nebraska health officials have reported four more COVID-19 deaths in the state, bringing the state’s total since the outbreak to 82.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services reported the new deaths late Tuesday. The department said two of the deaths occurred in hard-hit Hall County, and a third in neighboring Adams County. Officials did not immediately reveal the location of the fourth death.

Nebraska has confirmed more than 6,400 coronavirus cases as of Wednesday morning, according to the state’s online coronavirus tracking portal. More than 36,000 people have been tested, with nearly 29,700 testing negative for the virus.

The state has seen a surge in new cases over the last two weeks even as Ricketts, a Republican, relaxed social-distancing restrictions in some areas where not many people have been infected. Most of the hardest-hit counties have major meatpacking plants where employees work and often live together in tight spaces.

Categories: Coronavirus, Nebraska News, News