LINCOLN – During the past seven days, the total number of COVID-19-related deaths in the state increased by 28 to 147, according to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) data dashboard.
The state case total, as of 5:45 p.m. Central Daylight Time today, is 11,662, marking an increase of 1,890 from last Friday. Local health departments are reporting deaths and cases in their jurisdictions. In the event of a discrepancy between DHHS dashboard data and deaths or cases reported by local public health officials, data reported by the local health department should be considered the most up to date.
Less restrictive Directed Health Measures (DHMs) took effect Monday in the South Heartland, Public Health Solutions, and Two Rivers districts. A map of local health departments is available on the DHHS website. These relaxed measures allow for the limited reopening of dine-in services at restaurants and of salons, barber shops, tattoo parlors, and massage therapy services and increase the per room/space childcare limits from 10 to 15 kids (subject to the usual child-to-staff ratios). The relaxed measures were announced May 11 by Governor Pete Ricketts at his daily coronavirus press briefing. Today, the State posted reopening guidance for sports under Guidance Documents on the DHHS website - http://dhhs.ne.gov/coronavirus.
At the coronavirus briefing on Wednesday, May 20, Gov. Ricketts was joined by Sheri Dawson, director of the DHHS Division of Behavioral Health. Dawson was present to accept the official proclamation of May as Mental Health Awareness Month and Children's Mental Health Awareness Month. She also emphasized the mental health challenges of the ongoing pandemic and gave advice for prioritizing mental well-being. She noted that a number of hotlines stand ready to help.
At that briefing, the Governor said some additional restrictions would ease June 1, when the 14-day quarantine upon returning home would only apply to international travelers.
He continues to urge all Nebraskans to take the assessment provided on the TestNebraska website to help identify cases of COVID-19 in the state. After taking the assessment, participants who fit the criteria will be notified via phone or email that they qualify to be tested for COVID-19. Because people can develop symptoms quickly, Nebraskans are asked to update their assessments from time to time as needed.
Next week, testing will occur in the following cities:
Omaha 5/23, 5/26 and 5/30; 8am-6pm CHI Health Center, 455 N 10 St.
Lincoln 5/23, 5/26 and 5/30; 8am-6pm Lancaster Event Center, 4100 N 84 St.
Kearney 5/29-5/30; 8-11 am, 3-6pm Buffalo County Fairgrounds, 3807 N Ave.
York 5/26: 8-11 am, 3-6pm Holthus convention center, 3130 Holen Ave.
Seward 5/27; 8-11 am, 3-6pm Seward County Fairgrounds, 400 N 14th St.
Beatrice 5/29-5/30; 8-11 am, 3-6pm Gage County Fairgrounds 900 West Scott St.
Hastings 5/26-5/27; 8-11 am, 3-6pm Adams County Fairgrounds, 947 S Baltimore Ave.
Clay Center 5/27; 3pm-6pm Clay County Fairgrounds, 701 N Martin
After someone tests positive, a contact tracer with the local or state public health team will reach out to them with information on safely self-isolating. The contact tracer will also ask questions about where the person has recently been, and with whom they have been in close contact. The information gathered by contact tracers helps to identify other persons who have been exposed to the virus and may be at risk.
The Governor continues to urge Nebraskans to follow the Six Rules to Keep Nebraska Healthy.
- Stay home. No non-essential errands and no social gatherings. Respect the 10-person limits.
- Socially distance your work. Work from home or use the six-foot rule as much as possible in the workplace.
- Shop alone. Do this only once a week and do not take your family with you.
- Help kids social distance. Play at home, no group sports and no playgrounds.
- Help seniors stay at home. This can be done by shopping for them. Do not visit long-term facilities.
- Exercise daily. Do your best to stay as healthy and safe as you can.
Recent studies show that a significant portion of people with COVID-19 lack symptoms and those who eventually develop symptoms can pass the virus to others before showing symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC now recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (grocery stores, pharmacies, etc.) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission - https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover-faq.html .
Cloth face coverings are not a substitute for social distancing. Public health officials continue to emphasize that maintaining 6-feet social distancing is crucial to slowing the spread of the virus.
Here's where to find tools and resources for individuals and families, schools, communities, businesses, healthcare facilities, and first responders on the DHHS website - http://dhhs.ne.gov/coronavirus and CDC's website – https://www.cdc.gov/covid19 .
DHHS opened a statewide COVID-19 information line to help answer general questions and share the latest information and resources with Nebraskans to help keep them informed. The number is (402) 552-6645 or toll-free at (833) 998-2275; hours of operation are 8 a.m.-8 p.m. CDT, 7 days a week.
DHHS will continue to update Nebraskans through the DHHS website and on Facebook and Twitter as we have new information. The CDC's website is also a good resource for COVID-19 information - https://www.cdc.gov/covid19 .