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Nebraska COVID-19 update: Ricketts won’t back mask mandates, comments on city ordinances

Published: Nov. 17, 2020 at 10:54 AM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - Gov. Pete Ricketts is giving an update on Nebraska’s COVID-19 response at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

Chief Medical Officer of Nebraska DHHS Dr. Gary Anthone presented information regarding common treatments currently being administered for COVID-19 patients.

Anthone spoke about Remdesivir, Dexamethasone, convalescent plasma, monoclonal antibodies, among others.

Ricketts explained as of Tuesday there are 937 active hospitalizations in the state with a 14-day average of 4,622 staffed beds.

Q&A

Ricketts was asked if he had heard about death threats being made towards health department officials in and around Douglas County, Elkhorn and Logan-Valley. He said he was aware of the situation.

“I know that the person who made the threats is being prosecuted. This is where we ask for a little space for grace as people are just doing their jobs,” he said.

Beatrice passed a city-wide ordinance requiring masks while other communities in the state are considering similar legislation. Ricketts was asked if had a message for city leaders regarding such ordinances.

“I don’t think mask mandates are appropriate. For municipalities considering these ordinances, I would encourage them to check with their legal advisors on their ability to do that,” he said.

About a statewide COVID-19 transfer center: On the subject of the transfer center which helps patients find beds in hospitals across the state, Anthone said he commended them for the job they were doing.

“Lately they are working to transfer patients to a regional hospital based on where they are from,” Anthone explained. “If that’s not possible, then they go on a rotation basis through hospitals in the region.”

Earlier this year, Ricketts relaxed regulations for medical professionals from out of state to come help, and was asked if he knew the effectiveness of that decision and if he would loosen rules further.

“I would certainly consider that,” he said, but did not have any data on the effectiveness of the regulation changes on-hand.

On Iowa’s new restrictions: Asked for his reaction about Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds new facemask restrictions, Ricketts said masks are just one of several tools to be used against COVID-19.

“Masks are not a panacea,” he said. “They need to be used along with other tools as part of our ‘Swiss cheese’ strategy.”

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