NEW Today is 4/20, which some consider to be Marijuana Day. The Governor and Department of Health and Human Services reminded Nebraskans that tobacco and marijuana use greatly increase your chance of severe complications of COVID-19 complications
The American Lung Association said recently in a CNN article: “What happens to your airways when you smoke cannabis is that it causes some degree of inflammation, very similar to bronchitis, very similar to the type of inflammation that cigarette smoking can cause…”
Now more than ever it is important not to use tobacco or marijuana. Remember that marijuana use is illegal in Nebraska.
NEW A Spanish-language press event is scheduled at 5 p.m. tomorrow (Tuesday, April 21st) in the Governor’s Hearing Room. It will air live on facebook.
UPDATE Gov. Ricketts encourages Nebraskans to stay connected to friends and family during this time of social distancing. He especially urged those dealing with adversity to reach out for help and counsel.
· Social distancing is helping slow the spread of the virus, but it also has negative consequences.
· Many people will experience feelings of isolation, increased depression and a lack of social connectedness.
· During this time of social distancing, it is important to stay connected.
· There are hotlines available to help those in need. Reach out for help at:
o Nebraska Family Helpline: 1-888-866-8660
o Nebraska Rural Response Hotline: 1-800-464-0258
o National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255
REMINDER Businesses have been asked to respond to a Business Response Survey to share what is happening to them with the COVID-19 pandemic at https://bit.ly/NE-Biz-Survey-
Please follow these Six Rules to Keep Nebraska Healthy
- Stay home. No non-essential errands and no social gatherings. Respect the 10-person limit.
- Socially distance your work. Work from home or use the six-foot rule as much as possible in the workplace.
- Shop alone and only shop once a week. Do not take family with you.
- Help kids follow social distancing. Play at home. No group sports and no playgrounds.
- Help seniors stay at home by shopping for them. Do not visit long-term care facilities.
- Exercise daily at home or with an appropriately socially-distanced activity.
UPDATE The Nebraska Accommodation Project (NAP) has expanded to provide space for individuals who are required to quarantine or isolate because of COVID-19. The NAP program is a joint collaboration between the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the University of Nebraska and the Nebraska National Guard.
The program for the general public will be rolled out in Omaha and other localities will follow. Dormitories on the University of Nebraska Omaha UNO campus will be used for those who are interested and who meet the criteria for accommodation. The program differs from the first responders lodging program announced last week in that individuals who are under quarantine or isolation will not be able to leave these facilities until their quarantine or isolation periods have ended.
The goal of this program is to offer temporary housing to Nebraskans who have been exposed to COVID-19 and who are in need of a quarantine and/or isolation location outside of the normally defined household due to a high-risk household member. These accommodations will be available in a dormitory room setting and are open to anyone who meets the application criteria. Applications can be completed at http://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/
A General Public FAQ is available at http://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/
At Home with COVID-19 here are some tips to take cares of yourself: http://dhhs.ne.gov/
· Nebraska COVID-19 Information Line: (402) 552-6645. Hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. CST – every day.
· State agencies are sharing information using the #NECOVID19 Hashtag
DHHS has produced COVID-19 announcements available in English and En Español. Directed Health Measures translated in Spanish and Vietnamese are now available for Douglas, Cass, Sarpy and Lancaster counties. http://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/
· Review the Health Alert Network (HAN) for recent information and guidelines for health care providers.
Nebraska Emergency Management Agency https://nema.nebraska.gov/news
REMINDER NEMA has several Twitter lists you can follow by visiting https://twitter.com/
REMINDER There is no essential staffing list maintained by the State of Nebraska for people who have jobs to perform. Individuals leaving their homes in order to perform an activity or function for their jobs DO NOT need to carry or present any letter, identification card or other paper proving that they are allowed to leave their home.
Attorney General’s Office
Attorney General’s Office: Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson has alerted creditors, debt collectors, and financial institutions that Nebraska law may exempt CARES Act stimulus checks from attachment, garnishment or execution for certain low-income consumers. You may read more here.
Department of Administrative Services
A number of state agencies and private organizations have received inquiries from Nebraska manufacturers that have the capabilities to provide needed medical equipment for hospitals and medical providers. The Nebraska Department of Administrative Services (DAS) has partnered with the Nebraska Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NMEP) to help organize the manufacturers with these capabilities and connect them with the medical community.
For manufacturers please visit https://go.unl.edu/
Department of Agriculture (NDA) nda.nebraska.gov
Farmers Markets: The Nebraska Department of Agriculture has created guidance for farmers markets to help keep vendors and customers healthy and to slow the spread of COVID-19. All farmers market operators should first consult with their local health department to ensure that the market is able to meet all local health department guidelines. Farmers market guidance and additional information for agriculture producers can be found on NDA’s website at: www.nda.nebraska.gov/COVID-19.
Face Coverings Needed for Grocery Store Employees: NDA also wants to thank the dedicated employees of grocery stores across the state that are helping to move food to consumers. We are relaying a message from the Nebraska Grocery Industry Association that says many grocery stores are having trouble finding face coverings for their employees and are currently seeking them for added protection to their staff so they can stay healthy and keep serving customers. If you or someone you know are sewing face coverings, we encourage you to call your local grocery store and see if they are in need.
Department of Banking and Finance
The Nebraska Department of Banking and Finance extended the expiration dates of two orders previously issued to assist registrants under the Securities Act of Nebraska, from April 30 to May 31, 2020.
The department has posted a link for citizens to check the status of their stimulus payment.
Department of Corrections corrections.nebraska.gov
NDCS has COVID-19 related information on its webpage at https://corrections.nebraska.
Department of Economic Development https://opportunity.nebraska.
Business owners or nonprofit leaders are being asked to fill out a survey to report on how COVID-19 has impacted their organizations. The response will help the State of Nebraska, the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce, the University of Nebraska and other partners understand the impact coronavirus has had on revenue and workforce—and find the best ways to support our business and nonprofit community during this crisis. Make your voice heard at https://bit.ly/NE-Biz-
The Nebraska Department of Economic Development, the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce, the University of Nebraska and other business-related organizations are reaching out to Nebraska businesses to better understand the initial and potential future impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on the revenue and workforce of business organizations.
The goal is to find the best ways to support the Nebraska business community. The Nebraska Business Development Center (NBDC) at the University of Nebraska is working with Dr. Josie Schafer at UNO’s Center for Public Affairs Research (CPAR)—and in collaboration with Dr. Eric Thompson at UNL, Dr. Dave Dearmont at the Nebraska Department of Economic Development and Pete Thompson at the Omaha Chamber—to develop a survey for Nebraska businesses. CPAR will capture the survey results and publish the statewide report. The survey will be in both English and Spanish language versions.
- Applies to non-profit leaders as well as business leaders
- We want to understand challenges as we develop support strategies
- Survey will help as we work to restore growth/plan for the future
The survey launched today at 2 pm and will run through Friday, April 24 at 5 p.m. (10 days total).
Department of Environment and Energy http://dee.ne.gov
NDEE has issued guidance for indoor and outdoor pools during the COVID-19 pandemic. The department recommends pools, spas and spray parks carefully evaluate state and local Directed Health Measures, and close or delay opening until they are lifted.
Current Centers for Disease Control guidance states the novel Coronavirus is not spread in pool water if proper pool chemistry is maintained; however, there is a concern for common areas and people being in close contact.
For more information, please refer to the memo on our COVID-19 page.
Department of Insurance
Nebraska insurance producer candidates now have the option to take remotely-proctored exams called ProProctor. Visit https://www.prometric.com/
The Nebraska Department of Labor (NDOL) reported that 15,994 new unemployment insurance claims were filed during the week ending April 11, 2020. That was a decrease of 40 percent from the previous week when 26,539, a record high, initial claims were filed. During the past four weeks, 82,682 initial claims have been filed; there were 41,727 filed in the entire 2019 calendar year. Spreadsheets showing claims data are available here and will be updated every Thursday.
Initial claims are filed by individuals to request a determination of eligibility for unemployment insurance benefits. NDOL processes initial unemployment insurance claims and, if an individual meets eligibility criteria, benefits are paid for each week of continued unemployment.
Claims by Industry
The highest counts of initial claims were in the retail trade industry (2,711), which decreased 27.5 percent from the prior week (3,744). All industries had declines in initial claims from the prior week except for the Information sector, which saw an increase of 7.3 percent.
Filing A Claim
Any worker in a non-paid status due to COVID-19 may file a claim for unemployment insurance benefits. Unemployment claims in Nebraska are filed online at NEworks.nebraska.gov. The NEworks mobile app is available to download for free. After filing a new initial claim, applicants must certify their eligibility every week that they continue to be unemployed by logging into their NEworks account. These weekly certifications must be completed even while the new claim is still being processed. Claim and payment status can also be viewed by logging into the NEworks account.
The federal CARES Act created a temporary program that offers benefits to individuals not eligible for regular unemployment insurance benefits including the self-employed, independent contractors, gig workers, and others (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or PUA). The Act also increases the amount an individual on regular unemployment or PUA will receive by $600 per week through July 25. Workers who have been affected by the pandemic should file a claim for unemployment. NDOL will automatically review every claim that comes in for eligibility under the CARES Act.
Department of Motor Vehicles DMV news releases
Department of Natural Resources
NEW On April 23, 125 years ago, NeDNR began its mission to safeguard Nebraska’s most precious natural resource through sound partnerships, cooperation, and science-based decision making to help grow Nebraska’s future. Our agency continues to ensure that critical water-related information remains available (see https://dnr.nebraska.gov/
To support National Flood Insurance Program policyholders amid the COVID-19 pandemic, FEMA is extending its 30-day grace period for policy renewals up to 120 days. This is effective for National Flood Insurance Program policies with an expiration date between February 13 – June 15, 2020.
For more information, visit the FEMA website https://nfipservices.
FEMA also has some guidance on flood insurance claims during this time. It allows for the claims to be adjusted remotely without an adjustor visiting the property.
Department of Revenue
During the COVID-19 pandemic, as the Nebraska Department of Revenue provides guidance, direction, or pertinent public information such items may be found here. The most current information will be posted to the department’s website under “Featured Information”. Taxpayer Assistance is also available online and by phone, and contact information may be found here.
Nebraska Lottery players with prizes up to $19,999 are encouraged to claim by mail. Instructions for claiming prizes by mail can be found at https://nelottery.com/homeapp/
Game and Parks Commission http://outdoornebraska.gov/
In a proactive effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is prohibiting overnight camping at state parks, state recreation areas and wildlife management areas through Friday, May 8 and state park area lodging and cabins are closed through May 8 as well.
For a list of all Game and Parks cancellations, postponements and closures, go to: OutdoorNebraska.org/healthinfo
NEW A total of 224 Nebraska National Guard Soldiers and Airmen are supporting COVID-19 response efforts in Nebraska. Three mobile testing teams continue to provide support to local health districts. As of April 17, they have collected 2,155 test samples in 12 counties across the state in support of local health districts.
Teams are providing housing staff support for the Nebraska Accommodation Project on college campuses throughout the state. Distribution of PPE from Lincoln to health districts is ongoing. The Nebraska National Guard continues to provide logistical and planning support to our local, state and federal partners. National Guard personnel supporting COVID-19 response are receiving health checks themselves at least twice daily.
Nebraska Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (NCDHH)
NCDHH has the following VLOGs online relating to COVID-19:
COVID-19: Educational Resources & Communication Access NCDHH Executive Director John Wyvill discusses the importance of ensuring you and your child are prepared and receiving education information during transition to remote-learning.
COVID-19: Deaf and Hard of Hearing Organizations Stress Importance of Communication Access NCDHH Behavioral Health Coordinator Carly Weyers provides information on how to best keep informed with full communication access on announcements related to COVID-19.
COVID-19: NCDHH Offices and Social Distancing Information regarding preventative measures to keep you and the NCDHH team healthy featuring Behavioral Health Coordinator, Carly Weyers.
Nebraska State Fire Marshal’s Office
The Nebraska State Fire Marshal has developed an electronic burn permit that can be used by fire chiefs across the state beginning today. It allows fire departments to review, approve and issue burn permits without having to meet in-person with those who are requesting them, thus promoting social distancing and reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission to the firefighting community.
To obtain a PDF copy of the electronic burn permit, or to find out more, a fire chief can contact Assistant State Fire Marshal Doug Hohbein by email at email@example.com and request one. Requirements for the proper issuance and use of the permit are included on page 2 of the permit.
The issuance and use of electronic burn permits will terminate 30 days after the COVID-19 declared State of Emergency has been withdrawn.”
Nebraska State Patrol
The Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) has partnered with two Lincoln businesses to develop a product that could save thousands of pieces of personal protective equipment. The product will allow NSP troopers and investigators to use gas masks with reusable filters rather than N95 masks at crime scenes.
Every NSP trooper and investigator has a gas mask, but filters for the current gas masks are in short supply during the COVID-19 pandemic. In searching for a solution, NSP personnel located several hundred filters, which were made to fit a different design of gas mask, which was previously used by NSP. However, those filters did not fit the current gas masks.
Working with Lincoln businesses Kawasaki Motors and IntoMetal, an adapter has been produced that allows current gas masks to work with the different model of filter. Kawasaki was able to perfect a design for the adapter and IntoMetal was able to quickly produce the adapter using a 3D printer. The adapters are already being distributed for use throughout the state.
“This is tremendous work by our team and personnel from Kawasaki and IntoMetal,” said Colonel Bolduc. “This project has the potential to save thousands of pieces of PPE, such as N95 masks and face shields. By reducing our need for those valuable resources, hopefully the limited supplies can be diverted to medical workers and others working on the front lines against COVID-19.”
This project is intended for the masks to be used at crime scenes or during investigations. Troopers will not be wearing gas masks during regular patrols or on traffic stops.
NSP is also eager to share this design with any other law enforcement entities throughout the country that could potentially benefit from combining the MSA Millennium gas mask with the MSA 3-lug bayonet filter cartridges designed for the MSA Advantage 1000 mask. Any agency that would like to receive design specifications can find the design at the NSP website.
Nebraska State Treasurer’s Office
Due to the COVID-19 health crisis, the Unclaimed Property Division offices are closed to the public. Treasurer’s Office staff are available by phone at 402-471-8497 or 877-572-9688 and will continue to process claims mailed into the Lincoln office or filed online.
Office of the Chief Information Officer Website
Malicious cyber threat actors are capitalizing on the global attention surrounding COVID-19 to facilitate scams, distribute malware, and send phishing emails. We ask all Nebraskans to practice the following safe security habits online:
· Exercise caution in handling any email with a COVID-19-related subject line, attachment or hyperlink, and be wary of social media pleas, texts or calls related to COVID-19. Tips for Avoiding Social Engineering and Phishing Attacks: https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/
· Avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails and be wary of email attachments. Tips for Using Caution with Email Attachments: https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/
· Use trusted sources—such as legitimate, government websites—for up-to-date, fact-based information about COVID-19.
· Look at the email address, not just the sender. A genuine email from a legitimate organization would have the organization’s name in the domain name, indicating that it is coming from someone at the organization.
· Do not reveal personal or financial information in an email, and do not respond to email solicitations for this information.
· Verify a charity’s authenticity before making donations.
· Look for obvious grammatical errors and be wary of any emails that have implied consequences for failure to comply with demands.
Communications platforms guidance for individuals and organizations
Due to COVID-19, an increasing number of individuals and organizations are turning to communications platforms—such as Webex, Zoom and Microsoft Teams— for online meetings. In turn, malicious cyber actors are hijacking online meetings that are not secured with passwords or that use unpatched software.
Tips for defending against online meeting hijacking
- Do not make meetings public. Instead, require a meeting password or use the waiting room feature and control the admittance of guests.
- Do not share a link to a meeting on an unrestricted publicly available social media post. Provide the link directly to specific people.
- Manage screen sharing options. Change screen sharing to “Host Only.”
- Ensure users are using the updated version of remote access/meeting applications.
- Ensure telework policies address requirements for physical and information security.
For more information visit: https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/
Public Service Commission
April 12-18 is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week. The Nebraska Public Service Commission encourages everyone to take time to honor our 911 dispatchers and telecommunicators for everyone thing they do for our citizens and first responders.
The PSC State 911 Department is also sharing COVID-19 guidance for Nebraska Public Service Answering Points (PSAPs) on our State 911 Department webpage @ http://tiny.cc/
Secretary of State’s Office
REMINDER to voters that May 1 is the last day to send in your mail-in ballot request form. To date, County Clerks/Election Commissioners have received 271,449 ballot requests.
In 2016, a Presidential Election year, statewide votes totaled 313,000
Poll workers are needed for the Nebraska 2020 Primary Election, May 12. Contact your County Clerk/Election Commissioner to become a poll worker https://bit.ly/3eoOl9j
State Partner Updates
American Red Cross
In coordination with the FDA, the Red Cross, along with blood industry partners, is seeking people who are fully recovered from the new coronavirus to sign up to donate plasma to help current COVID-19 patients. People who have fully recovered from COVID-19 have antibodies in their plasma that can attack the virus. This convalescent plasma is being evaluated as treatment for patients with serious or immediately life-threatening COVID-19 infections, or those judged by a healthcare provider to be at high risk of progression to severe or life-threatening disease. To learn more, visit RedCrossBlood.org/plasma4covid
Medical Reserve Corps and Community Emergency Response Teams
The Medical Reserve Corps is working with DHHS to help meet staff shortages in long-care facilities. The Eastern Nebraska MRC has been active in providing behavioral health services for Three Rivers, Douglas County and Sarpy County Health Departments; and is helping Three Rivers with contact tracing.
Hall County Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) has been called upon to help with Strategic National Stockpile Hubs. This is a role that they have been training and exercising for the past few years. The Hall County Teams have also been solicited for help assisting the county election commissioner, who is losing all regular poll workers due to concerns over COVID-19.
Central Nebraska MRC has also been involved with the distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) from the Strategic National Stockpile throughout the Central Nebraska Area.
All MRCs and CERT teams remain at the ready throughout the state and are working with their local partners to better respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in Nebraska.
Natural Resources Districts (NRDs):
On Arbor Day weekend (April 24-26), Nebraskans will participate in the statewide Nebraska Tree-A-Thon to celebrate #ArborDayAtHome by planting and celebrating trees. Communities are collaborating with a coalition including Beyond School Bells and afterschool providers, the Arbor Day Foundation, Natural Resources Districts, Audubon Nebraska, Nebraska Forest Service, Nebraska Department of Education and the University of Nebraska. Whether it is planting trees, going on a nature walk, making birdhouses or posting a tree selfie, Nebraska’s youth and their families are encouraged to join the Tree-A-Thon this year to collectively share in the importance of trees. Please join the Tree-A-Thon by posting a picture of your family planting and/or celebrating trees with hashtags: #netreeathon, #treeselfie and #arbordayathome.
NRD employees doing field work (checking well levels, testing water and soil, tree planting, etc.) are considered essential workers. Landowners and the public should allow them to do their work uninterrupted.
Want to visit an NRD recreation area? Check for closures and access limitations by visiting: www.nrdnet.org/
Nebraska Ethanol Board
NEW DONATIONS NEEDED. Since April 5, more than 21,000 gallons of hand sanitizer has been produced at a temporary production facility at Nebraska Innovation Campus. The product has made its way into hospitals, nursing homes, blood banks, daycares, fire stations, and many other healthcare facilities. The need for hand sanitizer continues, but our supply of materials is dwindling. Many organizations have stepped up to donate supplies at a time when they too are hurting, in an effort to help slow the spread of COVID-19. They too have limits. If you are able to support these efforts, please consider giving at the link below. If you aren’t able to give, PLEASE share this link with friends, businesses, or others who can help. We will continue to produce sanitizer as long as supplies allow. Thank you for your support!
University of Nebraska Medical Center | Nebraska Medicine
UNMC experts answer questions about COVID-19 https://www.unmc.edu/
Ali Khan, M.D., M.P.H., dean of the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health, will discuss coronavirus (COVID-19) on April 21 at 10 a.m. as part of the Omaha Science Café series.
To continue social distancing this Science Café will be offered via Facebook Live which can be viewed at: https://www.facebook.com/
Dr. Khan’s professional career has focused on health security, global health and emerging infectious diseases. He completed a 23-year career as a senior director at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which he joined as a disease detective, and where he led and responded to numerous high-profile domestic and international public health emergencies. Dr. Khan also is a former assistant surgeon general with the U.S. Public Health Service.
UNMC has COVID-19 Resources on its website. Nebraska Medicine UNMC have led the world in treatment, training and quarantine methods for highly infectious diseases since caring for patients during the 2014 Ebola outbreak.
Federal Partner Updates
Center for Disease Control and Prevention The CDC provides guidance on daily life and coping during
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) COVID-19 Federal Rural Resource Guide
The guide organizes funding opportunities identified in the CARES Act and other federal resources that can support rural America. For more information on the immediate actions USDA is taking to respond to COVID-19, visit usda.gov/coronavirus.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)/Center for Disease Control (CDC)
Find answers about COVID-19 here: https://faq.coronavirus.gov/
National Institutes of Health https://www.nih.gov/health-
NIH is a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the nation’s medical research agency and makes discoveries that improve health and save lives.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region VII
NEW Since mid-March, three shipments of Personal Protective Equipment have been distributed from the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) to each of the four regional states. Quantities were determined by the state’s pro rata population recorded in the 2010 U.S. census. To date, the federal government has provided the following quantities from the national stockpile:
Iowa: Approximately 283,000 surgical masks, 261,000 pairs of gloves, 119,000 N95 respirators, 47,000 surgical gowns, 58,000 face shields and 1,900 coveralls.
Kansas: Approximately 274,000 surgical masks, 257,000 pairs of gloves, 115,000 N95 respirators, 46,000 surgical gowns, 56,000 face shields and 1,900 coveralls.
Missouri: Approximately 418,000 surgical masks, 336,000 pairs of gloves, 115,000 N95 respirators, 68,000 surgical gowns, 83,000 face shields and 2,000 coveralls.
Nebraska: Approximately 227,000 surgical masks, 231,000 pairs of gloves, 96,000 N95 respirators, 39,000 surgical gowns, 47,000 face shields and 1,800 coveralls.
For general information related to the federal response efforts, visit www.fema.gov
For rumor control, go to www.fema.gov/Coronavirus-
For information on How to Help
Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) https://www.bop.gov/
Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
The IRS has established a special section focused on steps to help taxpayers, businesses and others affected by the coronavirus. Find more info here: https://www.irs.gov/
U.S. Department of Treasury has information for those who need financial relief at Your Money and Coronavirus: Resources for Financial Relief. In addition, check out the department’s information on Assistance for Small Businesses.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
Get answers to VA related questions about the coronavirus: https://www.va.gov/
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has information on Food Safety and COVID_19
The FDA is working with U.S. Government partners to address the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak. Find more information here: https://www.fda.gov/emergency-
U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)
SBA launched a $349 billion emergency loan program last week entitled Paycheck Protection Program, as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES). Visit www.SBA.gov/Coronavirus for information about protecting your business, employees and customers. SBA issued guidance clarifying that all faith-based organizations impacted by COVID-19 are eligible to participate in the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, without restrictions based on their religious identity or activities, to the extent, they meet the eligibility criteria.
Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University has a COVID-19 map with case information from around the world. It can be found at https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/