Senator Joni Albrecht
WEEKLY UPDATE May 4, 2020
As I am sure most are aware, confirmed cases of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) have been growing in number in Dakota County in District 17 daily since testing began in earnest. Kudos to the leadership at Dakota County Health Department, Emergency Manager, and the Nebraska National Guard for the work they’ve done and long hours they’ve devoted to doing it. Certainly, the increased numbers of confirmed cases are concerning. They should also serve as a reminder to all of us to be exercising appropriate caution when making choices that will protect our health and the health of our loved ones and our community. During these times, please remember to follow the six rules suggested by the Governor:
1. Stay home. No non-essential errands and no social gatherings. Respect the ten-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.
Informational Videos highlighting these and other ways to stay healthy and keep families healthy during the pandemic and one about what to do if an individual or family member becomes ill or has been exposed to COVID-19 have been translated and released on YouTube in the following six languages:
Re-Opening parts of District 17:
The Governor announced that as of May 4, 2020, the Northeast Nebraska Public Health Department region that includes Thurston and Wayne Counties, is one of 19 separate regions with Directed Health Measures (DHM) that relax some restrictions in place. The DHM will be in place and effective through May 31, 2020. Businesses that may open or reopen under more relaxed guideline limitations include restaurants, barber ships, hair salons, nail studios, massage services, tattoo parlors, and childcare facilities. Each business is subject to certain restrictions and social distancing practices.
Because of the increasing number of cases seen in Dakota County, Dakota County Health region, which oversees Dakota County, is NOT included in any DHM loosening restrictions at this time and business closings previously ordered will remain in place. For more information about the Directed Health Measure changes, visit the Governor’s website at www.governor.nebraska.gov
Although Thurston and Wayne County are not seeing the significant numbers seen in Dakota County, I urge residents to be just as dedicated to making choices that protect your health and the health of your families.
Maintaining the integrity of Nebraska’s health care system remains the State’s top consideration when making decisions about public health measures. The Governor’s office and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) continue to monitor the state’s and each region’s ability to have ample capacity to care for area residents.
Governor’s Daily Briefings and Weekly Live Town Hall
As a reminder, Governor Ricketts is holding press conferences updating the state’s response to COVID-19 on Mondays at 1:00 PM and Tuesday through Friday at 2:00 PM. The conference is being broadcast live by many television and radio stations, or can be accessed on the Governor’s Facebook page, where it broadcasts live, as well. The Governor holds press conference interpreted in Spanish on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5:00 PM.
Additionally, NET is o broadcasting the Governor’s Live Town Halls every Thursday at 8:30 PM. At the NET web page, people can ask their questions ahead of time. To ask your question during the program, call one of these numbers: 800-676-5446 or 402-472-1212.
TestNebraska Information Available in Spanish
TestNebraska is now accessible to even more Nebraskans. The website now includes information and instructions in Spanish as well as English. If you know someone who would benefit from this addition, please let them know of its availability and direct them to www.TestNebraska.com/es to take the test and/or to take the survey.
The expanded testing will give the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, and Health Officials across the state valuable information as the state begins reopening the economy.
All Nebraskans are urged to complete a short assessment survey. Testing sites will multiple kits and multiple test options. All individually identifiable information being gathered for the TestNebraska initiative is protected by state and federal law. Aggregate data collected will be shared with the public health departments which are expected to then provide the aggregate data to the National information gatherers.
AG Disruption and Depopulation
As processing plants work to deep clean, stagger shifts and adapt to social distancing and other safety recommendations in response to COVID-19, many producers have been struggling with decisions about livestock depopulation. At the Governor’s press conference last week, Director Wellman from the Nebraska Department of Agriculture spoke to the issue and referred to resources available to AG producers having to make these tough decisions. My office reached out to Director Wells for more information. To recap, the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NEE), has provided temporary period, until June 1, 2020 for operations to have more livestock than previously permitted on the land. There are requirements and necessary precautions that must be taken.
In addition, there may be some federal assistance to help deal with the financial aspects related to depopulation and mortality management under the USDA’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). For more information, be sure to follow the Governor’s daily briefings and access state information at hpps://nda.nebraska.gov/COVID-19, keyword Livestock Depopulation Guidance www.deq.state.ne.us for NEE guidelines and/or the USDA website at www.usda.gov
Yes, these are challenging times. Please remember that together we will get through them as we have come through challenging times in the past. #NebraskaStrong.
As always, I invite you to let me know your thoughts, ideas, concerns, or suggestions by contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling my office at 402.471.2716.