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As COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to decline in Nebraska, governor could loosen more restrictions

Published: Dec. 21, 2020 at 9:50 AM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - Reporting on Monday that COVID-19 hospitalizations at the lowest rate since October, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts said the state is on track to lessen restrictions in a few days.

The state was reporting 582 COVID-19 hospitalizations as of Monday morning — the fourth day the state has seen such hospitalizations below 15%, the governor said. Across Nebraska, he said, 36% of hospital beds were available; 41% of ICU beds were available; and 74% of ventilators were available.

The governor again encouraged Nebraskans to get tested ahead of the holidays, noting that he was tested again on Sunday and had received his results today.

Also on Monday, Dr. Kevin Reichmuth, a pulmonologist who has received the vaccination, walked through the make-up of the vaccine. He then dispelled myths circulating online about the virus and the vaccine while answering some “frequently asked questions.”

Reichsmuth, who is also a colonel in the Nebraska National Guard, spoke as part of an effort to correct inaccurate claims about the new vaccines, including statements that the drugs cause infertility, contain a microchip, and trigger genetic changes in people who get the shot.

“Please don’t choose not to get this vaccination just because of something you see on Facebook or Twitter,” he said.

With the approval of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, Ricketts said the state expects to receive about 32,000 doses of it this week. Meanwhile, the state will save back more than 23,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine that are expected to arrive this week and next week in order to begin the pharmacy program, which is still expected to begin vaccinations at long-term care facilities.

More than 8,700 Nebraskans have received the first of their COVID-19 vaccinations since the state received its initial allotments of the Pfizer vaccine, the governor said.

New economic development office

The state is opening a new north Omaha field office for economic development dedicated to spurring business and economic development throughout the entire region,” department Director Tony Goins said Monday during the governor’s news conference.

Trevon Brooks is the first full-time staff member as the office launches its initiatives to spur employment and entrepreneurship, and develop workforce in the north Omaha area and beyond. He will work alongside attorney Jaquelyn Morrison, who was hired earlier this year.

The office will share space with the Department of Health and Human Services.

The governor also highlighted the state’s progress in minority hiring. Jason Jackson, director of Nebraska’s Administrative Services, said the state is going to coach Nebraska businesses to help them become more diverse while broadening the scope of qualified candidates and prospective contractors.

Watch Monday’s news conference

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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