LINCOLN – This morning, Governor Pete Ricketts hosted a press conference at the State Capitol to provide an update on the State’s ongoing response to the coronavirus pandemic. The Governor reported that coronavirus hospitalizations in Nebraska have decreased to 768 from a peak of 987 on November 20th. Nebraska remains in the “orange” phase of its pandemic response.
University of Nebraska President Ted Carter joined Gov. Ricketts at today’s briefing. He reviewed the University System’s efforts to help students stay healthy, afford tuition, and achieve academic success this fall. He also highlighted the University of Nebraska’s strong enrollment numbers and talked about its plans for a successful spring semester.
Brad Edgerton, manager of the Frenchman Cambridge Irrigation District, also took part in the briefing to share his experience as a coronavirus survivor.
Gov. Ricketts: Hospital Update
· Everything we have been doing has been to protect our hospital system to make sure people get the care they need.
· Hospital metrics:
o Hospital bed availability: 32%
o ICU bed availability: 30%
o Ventilator availability: 68%
· Currently, we have 768 coronavirus hospitalizations. That’s down from a high of 987 on November 20, 2020.
· Thank you to all Nebraskans for working to slow the spread of the virus. It has helped to protect our hospitals and healthcare workers.
· Over the weekend, coronavirus hospitalizations declined below 20% of staffed hospital beds. If they remain there for a period of time, we will see fewer coronavirus restrictions.
· We can’t let down our guard now. We want to keep hospitalizations on a downward trend.
· Let’s all keep doing our part to slow the spread so that we can protect our hospitals and help our healthcare workers.
President Carter: University of Nebraska Update
· We had an exceptional semester across the board in the University System.
· We took some specific steps to make sure we could be successful.
· We were one of the first universities to say that we planned to open our campus in the fall of 2020.
· We were very focused on affordability and attainment, as well as on the success and growth of our students. We also kept a keen eye on our most important factor—the safety of our faculty, staff, and students.
· Unlike most of the campuses across the nation—and particularly here in the Midwest—we saw enrollment growth.
o Most Midwest universities saw enrollment drops, especially among incoming freshmen, first-generation college students, and ethnic minorities. The University of Nebraska had growth in all of those areas.
· We held off on tuition rate increases for two years.
· We took our online course cost per credit hour down significantly.
o Enrollment in our distance-online programs grew by almost 10% over the past year, even with in-person education.
· We made changes to the academic calendar to finish coursework and exams in Lincoln by Thanksgiving. In Omaha and Kearney, students are finishing exams, mostly through remote learning.
· We’re bringing students back to campus in Lincoln and Kearney in late January rather than in early January. This has opened up the opportunity for online course offerings during the winter intersessional period.
· We plan to be in-person in the spring. We’ll do significantly more testing as we bring our students back.
· As we look ahead, we’re up 7% in applications for the fall semester.
· I’m proud of what our team has done, and I’m incredibly optimistic as we head into the spring.
Brad Edgerton: Coronavirus Survivor Testimonial
· On the evening of September 13th, I came down with a fever. I continued to have a fever the following days, so I went to the Test Nebraska site here in Cambridge.
· I received my positive test result on Sunday morning.
· The next Tuesday morning I woke up early to start my day, and I blacked out.
· My wife was in a different room since we had been distancing due to the virus.
· I’m not sure how long I was out. When I regained consciousness, my wife and I called the hospital.
· The hospital encouraged me to come in to get checked out.
· After an initial checkup, I was transported to Kearney where I was evaluated for three days.
· My blood pressure was low during my time there. Apparently, that is an effect of the virus.
· I was released from the hospital and returned home. My wife eventually tested positive as well.
· We weren’t cleared to go back to work until October 12, 2020.
· I appreciate all of the healthcare workers who helped us to get better.
Video from today’s press conference is available by clicking here.