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Nebraska Joint Information Center Update for Wednesday April 15, 2020

Nebraska Joint Information Center Update for Wednesday April 15, 2020
RRN/ Nebraska Joint Information Center Update.

COVID-19 Case Updates

Nebraska         As of April 15 at noon, the current case numbers for Nebraska are:

901 positive tests —  10,828    negative tests  —   20 deaths

Nebraska numbers include negative results from NPHL and commercial labs. Both state and local health departments are testing and publicly reporting their cases. In the event of a discrepancy between DHHS cases and cases reported by local public health officials, data reported by the local health department should be considered the most up-to-date.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) data dashboard provides daily updates to the state’s COVID-19 case totals and is online at http://dhhs.ne.gov/coronavirus

 

U.S.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website reports today:

605,390 cases  —  24,582 deaths

These statistics include both confirmed and presumptive positive cases of COVID-19. https://www.cdc.gov/covid19.

 

Globally    World Health Organization Situation Report as of April 15 at 3 a.m.,

1,914,916 cases  —  123,010 deaths

     Johns Hopkins University of Medicine COVID-19 Dashboard as of 1:34 p.m. April 15

2,034,020 cases  —   133,261 deaths

 

State of Nebraska Updates

Gov. Pete Ricketts’ Office https://governor.nebraska.gov/

NEW     At his 2 p.m. news conference today, Gov. Ricketts asked that businesses 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-2020. (For more information on the survey, see the Department of Economic Development portion of this news update below.)

University of Nebraska President Ted Carter joined the Governor at his news conference and asked businesses and nonprofits to “help us bring businesses back to life,” by filling out the survey. He said a number or resources for businesses are available online at: https://nebraska.edu/sourcelink

Director of the Division of Children & Family Services Stephanie Beasley also joined the governor at his news conference to discuss the governor’s executive order that will help families that get childcare subsidies as well as the daycares serving those children. Beasley said that nationally childcare programs lost 70 percent of their daily attendance in one week due to COVID-19.

The executive order will waive several statutes that will allow daycares to be reimbursed for childcare that’s not being provided because the parent is home with the child because of COVID-19. Beasley said 16 percent of childcare is closed since the COVID-19 emergency declaration on March 16.

Twenty-six percent or 4,421 of the 17,213 children whose families receive childcare subsidies do not have access to safe, high quality childcare while they try to continue to work or look for work.

DHHS is allowing licensed childcare subsidy providers to bill for times when subsidized children are absent from care during the emergency declaration. Families receiving subsidies, who are experiencing closure, can use a license exempt provider. That provider must be 19 years old, pass background checks and DHHS safety training.

Officials said they are also waving criteria for parents with unusual hours, three or more children and a child with special needs.

NEW Gov. Ricketts gave an update on the Paycheck Protection Program through the Small Business Administration. He said 18,565 Nebraska Businesses got loans totaling $2.7 billion to keep people employed through the COVID-19 crisis.

 

REMINDER     Gov. Ricketts will again hold a live town hall at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 16 on NET. It will feature Shelly Schwedhelm and Dr. Ali Kahn.

REMINDER

Nebraska is on Day 6 of

21 Days to Stay Home and Stay Healthy — Six Rules to Keep Nebraska Healthy

  1. Stay home. No non-essential errands and no social gatherings. Respect the 10-person limit.
  2. Socially distance your work. Work from home or use the six-foot rule as much as possible in the workplace.
  3. Shop alone and only shop once a week. Do not take family with you.
  4. Help kids follow social distancing. Play at home. No group sports and no playgrounds.
  5. Help seniors stay at home by shopping for them. Do not visit long-term care facilities.
  6. Exercise daily at home or with an appropriately socially-distanced activity.

 

Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) COVID-19 Information | DHHS News Releases

Health care workers, EMS, law enforcement and corrections officers who are concerned about exposing loved ones to COVID-19 unintentionally because of the daily requirements of their job can request a room by calling (833) 220-0018.

 

This program will aid in reducing spread of COVID -19 as these individuals will be afforded accommodations to quarantine at participating hotels in an effort to protect their families from exposure. Should a first responder begin showing signs of COVID-19 they will be able to self-isolate and receive appropriate care if needed. Accommodations are for those frontline employees who cannot quarantine at home or cohabitate with someone who is deemed high-risk.

The phone line will be staffed from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. seven days a week. Messages left on the after-hours voicemail will be returned the following day. Turnaround time for a site placement will not be immediate, but will be within 24 hours This program is for first responders, not the general public. Lancaster County workers must coordinate directly with their employer.

DHHS Links and Information COVID-19 Information | DHHS News Releases

  • 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 EspañolDirected Health Measures translated in Spanish and Vietnamese are now available for Douglas, Cass, Sarpy and Lancaster counties. http://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx#SectionLink1
  • Review the Health Alert Network (HAN) for recent information and guidelines for health care providers.

 

Nebraska Emergency Management Agency         https://nema.nebraska.gov/news

NEMA hosted a Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) webinar, April 10 for 29 community and agency representatives. The purpose of the webinar was to provide guidance to sub-applicants on how to develop robust and detailed applications to receive FEMA HMGP funding for hazard mitigation construction projects. Application requirements and project eligibility, cost-share requirements, scope of work and budget were among the topics discussed.

Individuals pursuing construction projects can visit NEMA’s website and YouTube channel to view a recording of the webinar. For further inquiry, please reach out to the NEMA Hazard Mitigation team at nema.hazardmitigation@nebraska.gov.

 

REMINDER NEMA has several Twitter lists you can follow by visiting https://twitter.com/NEMAtweets/lists. Consider Subscribing to the Nebraska State Government List or to the Nebraska County and Regional Emergency Managers List.

 

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 

NEW The Nebraska Attorney General’s Office warns that with the recent increase in consumers working from home in accordance with the recommendation of the state’s Directed Health Measure, it has seen a reappearance and increased reporting around a popular scare scam. In response, the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office provides a series of recommendations here to protect against scammers. Visit to read or download.

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/criticalmanufacturing  to register your company and list the products your company is able to produce in short deadlines. For people in the medical community that want to access these companies and order needed supplies, please contact: Doug Carlson, Chief Procurement Officer for the State of Nebraska, doug.carlson@nebraska.gov, 402-471-0972

 

Department of Agriculture (NDA) nda.nebraska.gov

NDA Director Steve Wellman has issued an order easing restrictions on pesticide applicators whose licenses are up for renewal. NDA is temporarily postponing certain training requirements outlined in the Nebraska Pesticide Act and extending valid pesticide applicators’ licenses, if conditions are met. According to the order, people with valid commercial, non-commercial and private applicator licenses which expire on April 15, 2020, must notify NDA of their intent to renew their license and pay the required fees to NDA by May 15, 2020.  Upon receipt of payment, NDA will allow the applicator to defer required training for license renewals until April 15, 2021. Visit www.nda.nebraska.gov/COVID-19 for more information.

 

Department of Banking and Finance

https://ndbf.nebraska.gov/about/covid-19-consumer-and-industry-guidance

Department of Corrections corrections.nebraska.gov

NDCS has COVID-19 related information on its webpage at https://corrections.nebraska.gov/ndcs-coronavirus-health-update.

 

Department of Economic Development     https://opportunity.nebraska.gov/nded-covid19/

NEW 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-Survey-2020.

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.

  1. Applies to non-profit leaders as well as business leaders
  2. We want to understand challenges as we develop support strategies
  3. 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 developed a COVID-19 information webpage that includes a message from the Director, links to state and federal resources, and NDEE-related issues.  Webpage address is: http://deq.ne.gov/NDEQProg.nsf/onWeb/COVID

Additional new items on the NDEE COVID-19 webpage include:

  • NDEE is allowing a temporary period for operations to have more livestock on site than permitted for. This is to help producers who may have issues with hauling livestock to packing plants during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The period should not last past June 1, 2020.
  • Due to current circumstances, there may be instances where dairies are unable to send milk to processors because of a lack of the ability to process the milk.  NDEE is allowing for the disposal of excess milk and milk products in Livestock Waste Control Facilities (LWCF) from dairies during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Municipal lagoons and treatment systems are not included in this exception.

 

Department of Insurance

The Department of Insurance has completed a comprehensive telehealth survey of the primary health insurers selling major medical in Nebraska.  The questions and responses from Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Bright Health, Medica, and United Health Care can be found at https://doi.nebraska.gov/sites/doi.nebraska.gov/files/doc/TELEHEALTH%20QUESTIONS%20AND%20RESPONSES.pdf.

 

Department of Labor            NEworks.nebraska.gov and dol.nebraska.gov

UPDATE The Nebraska Department of Labor (NDOL) reports that during the three weeks ending April 4 there were 66,741 initial unemployment claims filed. That compares with 41,727 claims filed during the entire 2019 calendar year.

Spreadsheets showing claims data are available here and are 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. Unemployment Insurance data includes information for initial and continued claimants. Data is updated weekly on Thursdays and is available online at:  I am .https://neworks.nebraska.gov/gsipub/index.asp?docid=710

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 for every week an individual is unemployed. All individuals who qualify will receive $600 in additional benefits for each eligible week of unemployment, including prior weeks. 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 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.floodsmart.gov/

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.

Our agency also continues to ensure that critical water related information remains available (see https://dnr.nebraska.gov/. It is being updated continuously, including real-time streamgaging information.

 

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.

 

Lottery   https://nelottery.com/homeapp/article/4220/display

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/article/4220/display Regional Lottery Claim Centers in Grand Island, Norfolk, North Platte, and Scottsbluff are closed to the public, but Nebraska Lottery headquarters in Lincoln and the Omaha Claim Center are open. Call 402-471-6100 to confirm office hours before claiming a prize in person at these locations.

 

Department of Transportation (NDOT)

The Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) announced Tuesday that statewide traffic volumes held steady for the third straight week at about a 30 percent decrease compared to the 2016-18 average. The department has been analyzing data collected from 58 sites across the state to estimate the impact of COVID-19 on traffic volumes since March.  Statewide traffic volumes for the week of April 5-11 were 28 percent below the three-year average from 2016-18. Truck and freight traffic remained at near normal levels across the state.

Percent Difference in Weekly Traffic Volume March-April 4, 2020 compared with 2016-18 average

  Rural Highways I-80 West of Lincoln Omaha Streets & Highways Lincoln Streets & Highways I-80 Lincoln

to Iowa,

 I-180, 

I-680, I-480

Remaining Small Urban Streets & Highways Statewide Total
March 1-7 4 -9 3 4 3 -1 2
March 8-14 -4 -4 -5 -3 -6 -5 -4
March 15-21 -17 -10 -26 -20 -25 -17 -19
March 22-28 -24 -36 -28 -32 -41 -22 -29
March 29-April 4 -22 -28 -33 -30 -40 -28 -28
April 5-11 -20 -32 -32 -31 -41 -29 -28

*Data from 2019 was excluded due to statewide flooding

The column descriptions are as follows:

  • Rural Highway are all non-interstate roads in areas under 5,000 population.
  • Omaha Streets & Highways include all non-interstate roads in Douglas and Sarpy counties.
  • Lincoln Streets & Highways include all non-interstate roads in Lancaster County.
  • Remaining Small Urban Streets & Highways are all roads in cities with over 5,000 population outside of Douglas, Sarpy, and Lancaster counties. (This includes I-129).
  • Statewide Total is a weighted average of all categories.

NDOT will publish weekly updates as part of the State of Nebraska’s Joint Information Center news release.

 

Department of Veterans’ Affairs

A member of the Central Nebraska Veterans’ Home (CNVH) in Kearney tested positive for COVID-19 and further testing is being conducted in coordination with Two Rivers Public Health Department and the Nebraska National Guard. Members at the four state veterans homes have been completing daily screenings and having temperatures taken to check for COVID-19 symptoms. After symptoms matching COVID-19 were noted in the CNVH member, the public health department was contacted to complete testing, and the member immediately began isolating in their private room.

Teammates and members who may have previously come into contact with the member are now being screened and tested. All teammates working in the home where the member resides are donning N95 masks, gowns, and face shields. Teammates throughout the rest of the facility are masked per CDC and DHHS long-term care facility guidelines.

“We have been taking COVID-19 very seriously and have implemented policies, procedures, and additional training in all four of our veterans homes to protect our members and teammates,” said NDVA Director John Hilgert. “I want to thank the teammates working in our facilities, who are the frontline workers in the war on this virus and are the heroes helping heroes in a challenging time.”

Protecting the health and safety of the members of the four state veterans’ homes, as well as the teammates who serve them is a top priority for NDVA. The NDVA COVID-19 task force has been coordinating efforts in all four veterans’ homes to limit the chances of contact with the coronavirus. Starting March 11, entry to the facilities was limited to NDVA teammates and medical professionals, who are required to complete a screening upon entry. A “virtual visitor” system has been put in place to keep families connected while access for in-person visits is limited. All non-essential travel outside the facility was postponed and communal dining has been discontinued.

 

Game and Parks Commission http://outdoornebraska.gov/healthinfo/

 

NEW http://magazine.outdoornebraska.gov/2020/04/a-fun-challenge-for-you-camp-at-home-nebraska/

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.

What’s a camping enthusiast supposed to do? How about … getting away in your own backyard?

 

“Nebraska Game and Parks Commission knows that camping is one of many people’s favorite activities, and we want to encourage you to create memories with your family during this time by doing some of your favorite things at home,” said Parks Division Administrator Jim Swenson.

Until conditions allow for overnight camping at its state park and recreation areas, the commission is encouraging people to pack up and pitch a tent at home as part of a new campaign: Camp At Home, Nebraska.

Those who participate can share photos of their “at-home” adventures by using the hashtag #CampAtHomeNE in their social post, or by sending photos via direct message to the Game and Parks Facebook page. Those who send a direct message with a photo, their name and address will be automatically entered into a drawing for prizes, including miniature camp lanterns and a grand prize two-night camping stay at one of our state parks after the threat of COVID-19 has diminished.

“We hope by camping at home, people can continue to foster their love of the outdoors while having a bit of fun during these stressful times,” Swenson said.

To help inspire, Game and Parks shares its top 10 tips for creating #CampAtHomeNE memories:

  1. Get everyone in your household involved in the planning and work together to design your ideal camp-at-home experience.
  2. Pitch your tent or make your own out of materials around the house wherever you have space — even if that means your living room.
  3. Gather around the campfire, built in an appropriate and safe location, such as a fire pit, fire ring, or even a clay flowerpot or metal bucket. Don’t have a safe place? Skip it!
  4. Focus on food. Roast hotdogs or tinfoil dinners. Whip out your cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven and make one-pot campfire meals. Or put all your energy into s’mores. The microwave, oven, barbecue grill and camp stove are all acceptable alternatives to cooking outdoors.
  5. Invent “camping” games using everyday household items.
  6. Go on a backyard scavenger hunt tailored to your interests. Moonlit scavenger hunts can add to the fun.
  7. Make your backyard a movie theater. Project a movie onto a white sheet or side of the house, or just huddle behind a tablet or other electronic device for a quaint viewing experience.
  8. Practice outdoors skills. Make a slingshot out of stick and rubber band, build a birdhouse, or practice casting.
  9. Fix gear. Replace fishing line on reels, patch holes in tents, or season cast-iron cookware.
  10. Light up the yard. Play hide-and-go seek while wearing glow sticks, or make your own camp lantern using an empty peanut butter jar and a battery operated candle.

“The important part is making the adventure your own, Swenson said. “We’ve given you some ideas to get started and hope you share your adventures with us to inspire others.”

For more ideas, visit OutdoorNebraska.org/CampAtHomeNE.

For a list of all Game and Parks cancellations, postponements and closures, go to: OutdoorNebraska.org/healthinfo. For more detailed information about how coronavirus cancellations may affect customers, check the Frequently Asked Questions page at OutdoorNebraska.gov/covid19faqs or use the Contact Us form at OutdoorNebraska.gov/contact. Past news release are available online: http://magazine.outdoornebraska.gov/category/news/

Military Department

NEW A total of 211 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.

The Nebraska National Guard delivered personal protective equipment and other supplies to multiple locations throughout the state.

The Nebraska National Guard continues to provide logistical and planning support to our state and federal partners.

The Nebraska Military Department is now conducting daily installation personnel screenings, and all National Guard personnel supporting COVID-19 response receive health checks themselves at least twice daily. The Nebraska National Guard will be updating this album with photos throughout the COVID-19 response

 

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

NEW 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 doug.hohbein@nebraska.gov 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

Nebraska State Troopers continue to patrol roads and investigate crime throughout the state. Troopers have seen a dramatic increase in excessive speeding violations over the last few weeks. Since March 19, when the first directed health measures were issued in Nebraska, troopers have cited 66 drivers for speeding at more than 100 miles per hour. Those 66 speeding violations have occurred in 18 different counties. For comparison, the period of March 19 through April 9, 2019 had only 36 such speeding violations of 100 miles per hour or more.

Several of those dangerous drivers have been reported to NSP by other motorists on the road. Any motorist who observes a dangerous or impaired driver can call *55 or 800-525-5555 to reach NSP dispatchers, who will share that information with troopers on the road. NSP’s patrol efforts remain at normal staffing levels throughout the state.

 

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

Updated 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/tips/ST04-014
  • 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/tips/ST04-010
  • 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/alerts/aa20-099a

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 @ https://psc.nebraska.gov/state-911

 

Secretary of State’s Office

NEW The Secretary of State’s office has received 235,000 (and growing) early ballot requests for the May 12, primary. The last day to request an early ballot is May 1. All voters have received an early ballot request application. Voters can check on the status of their early ballot application request by visiting the Secretary of State website https://sos.nebraska.gov/elections/early-voting.

In 2016 –we had there were 316,000 statewide voters in Nebraska’s Presidential Primary election.

Secure voting ballot boxes are being installed this week at each county building for voters who do not want to return their ballots by mail.

 

State Partner Updates

 

American Red Cross

Red Cross staff members are required to wear masks at blood drives and donation centers. In alignment with the updated CDC guidelines, beginning April 15, donors will be also be required to wear face coverings at a blood drive or donation center. Donors are encouraged to bring their own face coverings. If a donor does not have a covering or mask, the Red Cross will provide one. If a donor does not want to wear a covering or mask, they are asked to postpone their donation for a later date.

 

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/recreation.

University of Nebraska Medical Center  | Nebraska Medicine

NEW UNMC experts answer questions about COVID-19 https://www.unmc.edu/coronavirus/media.html

 

NEW 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/ScienceCafeNE/

 

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-information/coronavirus

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)

COVID-19 Pandemic Eligible Emergency Protective Measures Fact Sheet

For general information related to the federal response efforts, visit www.fema.gov

For rumor control, go to www.fema.gov/Coronavirus-Rumor-Control

For information on How to Help

 

Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) https://www.bop.gov/coronavirus/index.jsp

 

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/coronavirus-tax-relief-and-economic-impact-payments

 

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/coronavirus-veteran-frequently-asked-questions/

 

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-preparedness-and-response/counterterrorism-and-emerging-threats/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19

 

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.

 

Other Resources

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/map.html as part of the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center website. The site also includes News & Information, a Data CenterCovid-19 Basics and Videos & Live Events.

 

Mayo Clinic has information about COVID-19 and a COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool on its website.

 

World Health Organization (WHO) information on COVID-19 Pandemic information includes Public Advice a Q&ASituation Reports and Myth Busters and more.

 

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