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Gov. Ricketts calls on Nebraskans to aid in fight against COVID-19; won’t back city mask mandates

Published: Aug. 5, 2020 at 9:32 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 5, 2020 at 7:28 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - Gov. Pete Ricketts and other Nebraska officials gave an update on youth grant winners and antibody donations.

Ricketts gave a brief overview on the status of COVID-19 in Nebraska, noting the small number of hospitalizations and that there are many hospital beds and ventilators, should a critical spike in cases occur.

The governor talked about the new Test Nebraska site that opened in west Omaha and encouraged Nebraskans to continue signing up for and updating their assessments.

During questions at the end of the news conference, Ricketts held firm to his opposition of a face mask mandate anywhere in the state, saying that masks are a tool that Nebraskans should adopt as a precaution but that demanding it via the “heavy hand of the government” isn’t needed because asking people to “do the right thing,” and appealing to their “personal responsibility and civic duty” through state informational campaigns is better for the state.

Enforcement of a mandate would be problematic, he said. “We don’t have enough police to go out and write tickets for everybody who’s not wearing a mask and police don’t want to do that.”

Nebraskans will do the right thing without the government telling them what to do, he said.

“Think about when you’re working with your teenager,” he said. “Sometimes, it’s more successful to explain to them why they should be doing something and ask for their compliance rather than tell them what to do and have that resistance.”

Meanwhile, a petition for a face mask mandate has been circulating online.

UNICAMERAL UPDATE: He also noted the Unicameral’s progress on the property tax incentives bill, and said he looks forward to renewing the incentives program while Congress also works to give flexibility on the CARES Act funds. Ricketts said the state will not request additional funds, noting that the state put $10 million into its cash reserves.

CALL FOR PLASMA DONORS: Ricketts also said American Red Cross of Nebraska is calling for plasma donations, which have decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, those who have recovered from COVID-19 have antibodies present in their plasma that might help in another COVID-19 patient’s recovery. The Red Cross is working to collect convalescent plasma in its facilities in Omaha, Grand Island, and North Platte. Those are qualified to make such a donation are encouraged to step up.

In order to be eligible, anyone who has recovered from a confirmed case of COVID-19 — and symptom-free for 14 days — and is at least 17 years old, weigh 110 pounds or more, and “currently healthy and generally feeling well.” Donors will need to go online and get an appointment set up for thorough screening; learn more — and sign up — at RedCrossBlood.org/Plasma4COVID.

CALL FOR CLINICAL TRIAL PARTICIPANTS: The governor also encouraged Nebraskans to participate in a clinical trial for the COVID-19 vaccine being developed under President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed to sign up at coronaviruspreventionnetwork.org.

YOUTH GRANT WINNERS: Ricketts also announced the businesses that are being awarded Developing Youth Talent Initiative grants this year. As winners of the grants, Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing Corp., CLAAS Omaha, and Nucor Detailing Center will introduce middle school students to careers in industries like manufacturing, information technology, engineering, and healthcare.

Q&A from today’s news conference

Watch the entire news conference

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