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Ricketts says Nebraska proritizing kids in schools; OPS board member calls for stricter DHMs

Published: Nov. 5, 2020 at 11:48 AM CST|Updated: Nov. 5, 2020 at 1:12 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Gov. Pete Ricketts said during his news conference Thursday that he is not putting any new restrictions in place as the state continues to hit new all-time highs in positive cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations. But a local school board member said that’s what is needed.

“It’s obvious we are headed in the wrong direction,” Nebraska Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gary Anthone said during the news conference.

Anthone is predicting another 170 to 200 Nebraskans will be hospitalized this week.

“Remember: This is all about trying to make sure we preserve our hospital capacity,” Gov. Ricketts said.

While the governor announced no new changes Thursday to current directed health measures, he did say he will be evaluating those in the next week and possible changes could be coming.

“We just implemented our first tightening of our DHMs two weeks ago. Typically it’s going to take two or three weeks to see what kind of impact those things are having so we are always trying to evaluate additional steps,” Ricketts said.

Ricketts said one of his top priorities is keeping kids in school.

“Kids are better off in school because it’s a structured environment,” he said.

But those making the decisions on whether to keep kids in the classroom or to have them learn remotely say there needs to be changes made on the state level.

“We need to decide what’s more important: Having bars open at 100% or having schools open at 100%," said Ben Perlman, Omaha Public Schools board member. “And until the governor and other leaders decide to do that, we are not going to have kids back in school.”

Perlman said the lack of strict DHMs is causing a ripple effect impacting schools.

“There’s no question that the lack of leadership and the lack of directed health measures has created a big problem here,” he said.

Watch the governor’s Thursday news conference

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