Ricketts rejects senators’ call to resume normal activities

Ricketts said 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.
Governor Ricketts Request $58.6 Million To Fight Covid 19 Outbreak

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Gov. Pete Ricketts on Monday rejected a call from two state lawmakers to resume normal school and business activities in Nebraska right away, saying that could lead to a surge in new cases that might overwhelm the state’s hospitals.

Ricketts said 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.

His remarks at his daily coronavirus press briefing came in response to a question about a newspaper column by state Sens. Steve Halloran and Steve Erdman, both conservatives who normally agree with the Republican governor.

The senators argued that 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.”

The senators 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, and social distancing is the only way to protect people who are most at risk.

“If Nebraska continues to operate within its current mitigation policy, civil unrest will eventually ensue,” wrote the senators, who are both in their 70s, a high-risk age group. “All life is sacred and valuable, but Nebraskans also need to re-open their businesses, go back to work, go back to school and get the elective surgeries they need.”

Ricketts said he agrees with the senators “100%” about the need to reopen schools and businesses as soon as possible, but he warned that doing so too soon could lead to a spike in cases.

“The big key, again, is what we have said all along, which is about being sure we don’t overwhelm the health care system,” he said. “That’s what we’re working to manage to. We’ve got to stay home and stay healthy until the end of April.”

Nebraska had 871 confirmed coronavirus cases and 17 deaths as of Monday evening, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. Nearly 10,500 people have tested negative. The number of new cases also declined to 59 on Monday, down from a sharp increase of 101 new cases on Sunday. On Saturday, the state had 58 new cases.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

The governor made his comments as a local public health district reported 10 new cases among workers at a beef processing facility in Hastings, in Halloran’s district.

Ricketts also issued a call to help local food banks, which face increasing demand as more people lose jobs and food shortages as more grocery stores sell out of key products.

“It’s rough right now, and we anticipate it’s going to get rougher over the coming months,” said Scott Young, executive director of the Food Bank of Lincoln.

Meanwhile, police in Omaha handed out 20 citations for trespassing in city parks over the weekend, just days after the mayor ordered the parks closed amid complaints they were too crowded.

The tickets were issued Saturday and Sunday, with the largest share — eight citations — being handed out in northeastern Omaha’s Hummel Park, police said. Two people also were cited on the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge that links Omaha to Council Bluffs, Iowa, over the Missouri River.

The others were handed out in Adams, Levi Carter, Miller, Memorial and Robert’s parks, police said.

Categories: Capitol News, Coronavirus, Nebraska News