May 1, 2020 (LINCOLN, Neb.)
COVID-19 Case Updates
4,281 positive tests — 23,104 negative tests — 70 deaths
United States The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website:
1,062,446 cases — 62,406 deaths
3,175,207 cases — 224,172 deaths
3,321,402 cases — 237,180 deaths
Numbers above were cases available online as of 2:45 p.m. May 30, 2020.
State of Nebraska Updates
Gov. Pete Ricketts’ Office https://governor.nebraska.gov
NEW At his 2 p.m. news conference today, Gov. Ricketts reminded Nebraskans that we are still following our Six Rules to Keep Nebraska Healthy
- Stay home. Do not take unnecessary trips outside the home. 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.
REMINDER Gov. Ricketts reminded Nebraskans to visit testnebraska.com to complete an online assessment. Test Nebraska will assess, test and track COVID-19 cases in the state. The program will help the state increase testing which is important to stop the spread of the virus in the state and especially important when restrictions are lifted. The increased testing will allow only those who test positive to stay home while those who test negative can return to work. Ricketts said the testing will be free for Nebraskans and will give the state real-time information about COVID-19. As part of the plan, Nebraskans are asked to take the #TestNebraskaChallenge and to nominate five friends to take the test. The page is now available in Spanish https://www.testnebraska.com/es. The first two sites will be Omaha and Grand Island. More than 110,000 people have signed up on the site. Testing will start in Omaha and Grand Island on Monday. Nebraskans who need to take the tests will receive email notifications with a time to get tested.
NEW May is traditionally Beef Month in Nebraska and Gov. Ricketts signed a proclamation during his news conference proclaiming May as Beef Month in Nebraska. He said beef is the single biggest industry in the state.
NEW Buck Wehrbein, division chair of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, joined Gov. Ricketts at his news conference. Wehrbein said “We want our customers to know that the beef we produce is the same high quality product we have always produced.” For information on Nebraska beef he said to visit nebeef.org and beefitswhatsfordinner.org
Shelly Schwedhelm, executive director of emergency management and biopreparedness at Nebraska Medicine, joined the Governor to talk about the guidelines Nebraska Medicine helped develop for meat processing facilities. The guidelines include strategies to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 while the facilities continue to operate. The guide provides best practices and recommendations for the facilities to minimize the risk COVID-19 poses to employees and the communities. It is available at https://www.unmc.edu/healthsecurity/education/programs/docs/Playbook.pdf.
Briefings next week are scheduled at 1 p.m. on Monday and at 2 p.m. Tuesday-Friday. The Governor’s Radio program will be held Monday at 2 p.m. In addition, Spanish language news conferences are scheduled Tuesday and Thursday at 5:15 p.m. and the Governor will also be on the Speaking of Nebraska Townhall program at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday.
The guidelines for restaurant re-openings in Cass, Douglas and Sarpy counties on May 4 are now online at:
COVID-19 Dashboard now includes hospitalization data:
- 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:
o En Español (Spanish)
o Thông tin bằng tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
o Informations en français (French)
o 中文信息 (Chinese)
o 한국어 정보 (Korean),
- Review the Health Alert Network (HAN) for recent information and guidelines for health care providers.
NEW A total of 380 Nebraska National Guard Soldiers and Airmen are supporting COVID-19 response efforts in Nebraska.
Soldiers and Airmen continue to support food packaging with Food Bank for the Heartland in Omaha, and food packaging and distribution with Food Bank of Lincoln.
NEW On Saturday, National Guard personnel will assist in Omaha with Food Bank for the Heartland’s drive-through food collection of donated nonperishable items. For more information visit: https://foodbankheartland.org/fooddrive/
NEW Four mobile testing teams continue to provide support to local health districts. As of April 30, the teams have collected 7,638 test samples in support of 17 health department districts across the state. Two mobile testing teams worked in Dakota City and collected 2,632 samples from employees at a meat packing plant over three days, April 28-30. B-roll of test sample collection in Dakota City is available, here: https://www.dvidshub.net/video/750132/nebraska-national-guard-conducts-covid-19-testing-dakota-city-plant
NEW Members of the Nebraska Military Department joined Gov. Pete Ricketts and Maj. Gen. Daryl Bohac to send video greetings and words of appreciation and encouragement to health care workers and many others doing essential work during COVID-19. https://www.dvidshub.net/video/750414/nebraska-military-department-shoutouts-covid-19-responders
The Nebraska National Guard will be updating this album with photos throughout the COVID-19 response
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, firstname.lastname@example.org, 402-471-0972
Department of Agriculture (NDA) nda.nebraska.gov
Nurseries and Garden Centers: The Nebraska Department of Agriculture has created guidance for nurseries and garden centers to help keep customers healthy and to slow the spread of COVID-19. All nurseries and garden centers should first consult with their local health department to ensure that the business is able to meet all local health department guidelines. Nursery and garden center guidance and additional agriculture-related information can be found on NDA’s website at: www.nda.nebraska.gov/COVID-19.
Department of Banking and Finance
The Nebraska Department of Banking and Finance is extending its temporary suspension of examinations of financial institutions from April 24 to May 15. This extension will further allow state-chartered banks, credit unions and other financial entities to continue to assist their customers in Paycheck Protection Program requests, loan restructuring and other service items. The department expects to resume offsite examinations in early June 2020. The department’s Statement on Examinations is online here.
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/
DED is working to inform and assist businesses during Nebraska’s ongoing response to COVID-19. Information for businesses is available on the DED website. DED is committed to serving Nebraskans facing financial challenges during this time, and understands that local economic leaders will play an important role in creating regional solutions for businesses and their workforce. The department’s Field Services Team is working with business leaders in these regions to address ongoing COVID-19 challenges.
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.
- 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.
Department of Insurance
CARES Act payments will have no impact on ACA Marketplace subsidies according to the Nebraska Department of Insurance.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, calls for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to make economic impact payments of up to $1,200 per taxpayer and $500 for each qualifying child, adjusted based on income. The federal government has announced that any money received due to the CARES Act does not need to be included as income on an application for individual health insurance coverage through healthcare.gov.
In addition, payments received through the CARES Act do not impact an individual’s eligibility for financial assistance for health care coverage through the Marketplace or eligibility for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). For more information, visit IRS Coronavirus Tax Relief or https://www.healthcare.gov/coronavirus/.
Department of Labor NEworks.nebraska.gov and dol.nebraska.gov
The Nebraska Department of Labor (NDOL) announced April 20 that 8,002 new unemployment insurance claims were filed during the week ending April 25. This is a decrease of more than 33 percent from the previous week when 12,043 initial claims were filed. 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 Health Care and Social Assistance industry (940), which decreased 38.5 percent from the prior week (1,529). All industries had declines in initial claims from the prior week except for Management of Companies and Enterprises and Mining which saw an increase of 25.7 percent and 75 percent respectively. Both of these have very low numbers to begin with so this is not significant at this time.
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.
CARES Act – 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 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
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/.) Be assured that our staff continue to update vital information, including real-time streamgaging information, during this pandemic.
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.
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/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.
Game and Parks Commission http://outdoornebraska.gov/healthinfo/
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. 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/
Highlight Outdoor Nebraska’s finest on your next video conference – With virtual meetings expected to be a part of people’s lives for the foreseeable future as the coronavirus pandemic continues worldwide, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is making available 12 iconic photos for use as video conferencing backgrounds.
The photos, featuring the photography of Nebraskaland Magazine, showcase wildlife, scenic parks and stunning views, so those connecting over virtual conference platforms for work or for fun can highlight their sense of adventure — and hide any messes in the background, too.
The photos span the state from Platte River State Park to Chadron State Park. One can look into the eye of butterfly or see oneself riding a bike trail through forested woods.
Browse the entire collection at OutdoorNebraska.org/ZoomBackgrounds. Expand the main gallery at that link to save select images, then upload them to any virtual meeting platform that allows backdrops to be changed. Once there, look for “virtual backgrounds” in the settings menu and upload the Nebraskaland image of your choice. Pro tip: Some platforms even allow you to change backgrounds mid-chat.
Keep in mind, all images that have been made available are copyrighted by Game and Parks and are intended for personal use only.
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 Emergency Management Agency https://nema.nebraska.gov/news
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.
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
NEW Troopers Distribute 95,000 Masks to Truck Drivers in Two Days
Troopers with the Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) distributed nearly 100,000 facemasks to truck drivers across Nebraska over the last two days.
“This was a tremendous effort by many people to primarily do two things: show our thanks and support to these drivers and to help protect them as they continue working to keep food and critical supplies moving across the country,” said Col. John Bolduc, superintendent of the Nebraska State Patrol. “Our troopers have a great relationship with the Nebraska Trucking Association. To partner with them and federal agencies to make this happen quickly is a good example of the teamwork we’re seeing all over the country right now.”
Throughout the last two days, April 29-30, troopers with the NSP Carrier Enforcement Division positioned themselves at weigh stations and rest areas on the heaviest traffic areas of the state. Truck drivers drove through by the tens of thousands to receive the masks. Over the two days, troopers and volunteers with the Nebraska Trucking Association handed out approximately 95,000 masks.
“There’s no doubt that the road to recovery starts with these truck drivers,” said NSP Carrier Enforcement Lt. Mike Maytum, who organized the two-day event. “The smiles, waves, and appreciation we saw over the last two days assure us that America’s food and supplies are in good hands as they cross the country. Thanks to these drivers for the incredible work they do every day.”
The masks were provided by FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security, in partnership with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, and the U.S. Postal Service.
The remaining masks will be available at NSP weigh stations while supplies last.
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/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
The PSC is reminding natural gas customers that a moratorium suspending residential disconnections of natural gas services for non-payment for Black Hills Energy and NorthWestern Energy customers remains in place through June 1, 2020. Read more @ http://tiny.cc/PSCReminders
Secretary of State’s Office
A Word of Caution about voting Your ballot could be set aside if you have received a ballot in the mail and then changed your mind and decided to go to the polls. Since you already received a ballot in the mail, you will be given a provisional ballot at the polls. A provisional ballot is set aside to verify that you have not voted twice. Depending upon the decision your ballot may or may not be counted. Remember if you have requested and received a ballot to vote by mail, please fill it out, sign it, and return it in the mail, or drop it off in the voter box at your county before the close of polls May 12.
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
Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) volunteers from both the Eastern Nebraska/Western Iowa MRC and the Southeast Nebraska MRC have been cooperating to support the Three Rivers Health Department and Public Health Solutions with contact tracing and will continue to do so for the next few weeks.
The Southeast Nebraska MRC is doing its part to conserve masks in the fight against COVID-19 by making their own masks. Approximately 50 masks were homemade to support their volunteers working in the field.
The Central Nebraska MRC assisted in the setup of a drive-thru testing site in Kearney. The Central Nebraska MRC has also been organizing assistance to support residents at Callaway Hospital.
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. The MRC Unit Coordinator Leadership has been working with DHHS to help affiliate volunteers to assist in local COVID-19 responses throughout Nebraska. Those interested in volunteering with their local MRC can contact Quinn Lewandowski at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Natural Resources Districts (NRDs):
Want to visit an NRD recreation area? Check for closures and access limitations by visiting: www.nrdnet.org/recreation.
NRD employees doing field work are essential workers. Landowners and the public should allow them to do their work uninterrupted.
University of Nebraska Medical Center | Nebraska Medicine
UNMC experts answer questions about COVID-19 https://www.unmc.edu/coronavirus/media.html
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
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)/Center for Disease Control https://faq.coronavirus.gov/
National Institutes of Health https://www.nih.gov/health-information/coronavirus
Federal Bureau of Prisons https://www.bop.gov/coronavirus/index.jsp
Internal Revenue Service https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus-tax-relief-and-economic-impact-payments
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Coronavirus Veteran FAQ
U.S. Small Business Administration www.SBA.gov/Coronavirus