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Gov. Ricketts Reviews Newest Directed Health Measures, Proclaims May as “Beef Month” in Nebraska

Gov. Ricketts Reviews Newest Directed Health Measures, Proclaims May as “Beef Month” in Nebraska
Gov. Ricketts (podium) and Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director Steve Wellman (standing, far left) at today’s press briefing.

LINCOLN – Today, at his daily press briefing, Governor Pete Ricketts proclaimed May as “Beef Month” in Nebraska.  He also overviewed the actions the State has taken to assist meat processors with their health and safety practices.

 

Additionally, he announced the availability of the State’s latest directed health measures (DHMs) for all 19 local health departments (LHDs).  The new DHMs can be found by clicking here.  A map of Nebraska’s LHDs is available by clicking here.

 

Steve Wellman, Director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, and Buck Wehrbein, Federation Division Chair for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, joined the Governor to celebrate Beef Month.  Shelly Schwedhelm, Executive Director of Emergency Management and Biopreparedness for Nebraska Medicine, also took part in the press conference.  She announced the availability of a new guide that offers best practices and recommendations for meat processors as they work to minimize the risk of coronavirus.  Shelly and a team of experts have toured 11 meatpacking plants over the past two weeks to provide technical assistance and further develop the guidance document, titled “Meat Processing Facility COVID-19 Playbook.”

 

Gov. Ricketts: Beef Month

  • Today we are celebrating Beef Month in Nebraska.
  • Beef has been a part of Nebraska’s rich history since the beginning of our state.

o  Hard-working men, women, and families came to Nebraska to pioneer the cattle industry.

o  The cattle industry grew, and it is the largest driver of our largest industry, agriculture.

  • When we think of beef, we often think of ranches, pastures, and rolling hills.  But it’s more than that.

o  It’s a main economic driver in our state.  It generates jobs throughout the entire supply chain.

o  Corn and soybean producers, feed grain suppliers, processers, packers, grocery retailers, and more are intricately connected with our beef industry.

  • The last ten years have been a decade of growth for Nebraska beef exports, with a 96% increase in total beef exports.

 

Director Wellman: Beef Month

  • Nebraska is known as the “Beef State” because of the wonderful, high-quality, and safe beef we produce here.
  • Our Sandhills grasslands and abundant water resources make Nebraska a great place to raise cattle.
  • Over the years, our ranchers have made substantial investments to improve how they operate.
  • We produce the same amount of beef in 2020 as we did in 1970 with one-third less animals.

 

Buck Wehrbein: Beef Month

  • A year ago, our cattlemen faced floods and now we’re fighting a virus.  It’s been a powerful one-two punch.
  • Despite these challenges, our ag producers are committed to producing our premium beef.
  • We rely on food processors to help our beef reach the tables of our customers.  We’re grateful for what they do.
  • People are cooking more and eating at home more often right now.
  • Nebraskans can go to beefitswhatsfordinner.com to find tips on cooking various cuts of meat as well as great recipes to try.

 

Shelly Schwedhelm: Meatpacking Safety

  • I grew up on a dairy farm and currently live on a beef farm.  I’ve also studied infectious disease and have been applying this knowledge to agricultural production.
  • The University of Nebraska Medical Center’s (UNMC’s) Global Center for Health Security has developed a new playbook for meat processors to prevent COVID-19.  You can access it by clicking here.
  • We’ve identified many best practices for meat processors:

o  Adding physical barriers.

o  Changing air flows.

o  Implementing physical distancing strategies for breaks and lunches.

o  Doing screenings as workers come to the facility.

o  Providing masks for workers.

  • Our team of infectious disease experts at UNMC has now physically visited 11 plants and virtually toured others.  We have additional on-site visits scheduled for next week.

 

Gov. Ricketts: Health and Testing Reminders

  • Throughout the month of May, we are reminding people to follow our Six Rules to Keep Nebraska Healthy.

o  Stay home.  Do not take unnecessary trips outside the home.  Respect the ten-person limit.

o  Socially distance your work.  Work from home or use the six-foot rule as much as possible in the workplace.

o  Shop alone and only shop once a week.  Do not take family with you.

o  Help kids follow social distancing.  Play at home.  No group sports. And no playgrounds.

o  Help seniors stay at home by shopping for them.  Do not visit long-term care facilities.

o  Exercise daily at home or with an appropriately socially-distanced activity.

  • Scheduling for the first two Test Nebraska testing sites in Grand Island and Omaha is occurring now.
  • We need every Nebraskan to go to TestNebraska.com right now to fill out the quick, five-minute assessment.
  • Informational Non-English Videos:

o  The State has been working hard to reach non-English speaking communities across Nebraska.

o  Today, we are launching two videos that have been translated into six languages:

  • Spanish
  • Arabic
  • Karen
  • Somali
  • Nepalese
  • French

o  One video highlights ten ways to stay healthy and keep your family healthy during the pandemic.

o  The other video provides tips on what to do if you or family members become ill or have been exposed to the virus.

o  These resources will be available on my YouTube channel.  Some videos have already been uploaded and can be viewed by clicking here.  Others will be available soon.

o  We invite companies, non-profits, community organizations, and others to utilize these resources.  We encourage their use on websites across the state as well as on social media platforms.

 

Full video of today’s press briefing is available by clicking here.

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