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Nebraska to again publish COVID-19 data

Gov. Ricketts said the state will pull it down again once hospitalizations fall below the 10% threshold
Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 9:56 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - The State of Nebraska will once again have a complete picture of COVID-19 cases — something that’s been missing for a few months — as the state plans to reinstate its coronavirus data dashboard.

With more and more COVID-19 patients taking up hospital beds across Nebraska, Gov. Pete Ricketts said during his news conference Monday morning that he will waive a Nebraska statute on health privacy, allowing the state to make case numbers and hospital bed data again available county by county.

Since the end of June, when Ricketts concluded Nebraska’s pandemic-related emergency status, the governor has been criticized for not posting the data — it’s why Nebraska looked safer than anywhere else in the country on many COVID-19 maps.

Lately, the data coming out of Nebraska has amounted to a tally posted on a static page on the Department of Health and Human Services website, and it didn’t include counties under 20,000 people because they were restricted in what they could report. That meant that only 17 of 93 Nebraska counties were allowed to make their COVID-19 data public.

Monday, Ricketts said Nebraska met a specific threshold, and so the dashboard would be reinstated sometime that day.

“Our metric to trigger this has been 7-days rolling average of 10% of our hospital capacity taken from COVID patients,” the governor said.

Ricketts said the dashboard would come down again once the number of COVID-19 patients in hospital beds falls below 10%.

“We’ve had 11 weeks on increases in the number of patients in hospitals week-over-week,” said Dr. Gary Anthone, Nebraska’s chief medical officer.

During the news conference, Ricketts was also critical of the federal government’s recent reduction in states’ monoclonal antibody treatments allotments, a treatment used to fight COVID-19 in its earliest stages.

Ricketts slams U.S. border policies

The governor also took the opportunity to voice his opinion on the federal government’s border policies, specifically mentioning Del Rio, the Texas city where Nebraska State Patrol officers were deployed earlier this summer.

Ricketts’ criticism came after the Biden administration invoked a Trump-era policy resulting in a massive show of force by the U.S. at Del Rio, where the U.S. has been flying Haitians camped there back to their homeland while working to block others from crossing the border from Mexico.

Suicide prevention campaign

Ricketts and other state officials also talked about suicide prevention efforts in Nebraska.

The governor was joined by Sheri Dawson, director of behavioral health for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, who will talk about available resources prioritizing mental wellbeing and announce a new suicide prevention campaign called “More tomorrows.”

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health or thoughts of suicide, call 1-800-273-8255 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Watch Monday’s news conference

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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