Governor places all Nebraska counties under DHM guidelines

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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) -- Gov. Pete Ricketts on Friday issued a Directed Health Measure places all remaining counties under the restrictions enacted elsewhere in the state, effective until May 11.

The measure limits all public gatherings to 10 people or less; requires bars and restaurants to close dining areas; prohibits elective surgeries; keeps students home from school and cancels related activities; and requires two-week quarantine for those exposed to — or showing symptoms of — COVID-19.

RELATED: More coverage | Global cases | Metro cases

Earlier on Friday, during his regular afternoon news conference, the governor shared Google mobility charts that he said illustrated that people were changing their behaviors.

According to the data, 24% of Nebraskans were working from home, and up to 8% were staying home more than usual.

INTERACTIVE: Google mobility data

But there's still a long road ahead, Ricketts said, and April will be a tough month.

He stressed that residents must continue to practice social distancing and avoid playing together at parks and such as the weather warms.

"We must continue to focus on this, but we have to do better," Ricketts said.

Ricketts also talked about testing, noting the state had reported 33 new cases earlier in the day.

Stressing the importance of social distancing

UNMC's James Lawler said more cases will be reported in the state, as will more deaths.

"That is our projected course," he said.

But the governor said the jump wasn't all bad news as the amount of positive cases are staying flat, even with increased testing.

"While we are increasing testing capacity, we need more information to be able to understand how well we're doing with our mitigation efforts — how to better analyze data," Lawler said.

COVID-19 is here to stay, he said.

"We won't be able to get to it. We won't be able to return to complete normal until we get a vaccine," he said.

But we can continue to protect our healthcare system so that all Nebraskans continue to have access to effective healthcare, he said.

"We need to make sure we don't overwhelm the health system," Lawler said, noting the effectiveness of closing schools, placing close contacts of known cases under quarantine, and continuing to stress the importance of social distancing.

"If you want to see us back to somewhat normal in Fall, we need to stay home now," he said.

Relief for businesses

Tony Goins of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development said leaders are working to provide relief for businesses.

In the meantime, he advised small business owners to:

  • Contact their vendors and make payment arrangements.
  • Talk to your bank about loan deferments.
  • Talk to commercial property owners about rent editions and deferments.

Goins also advised commercial property owners to reach out to banks themselves about deferments, then pass that information along to tenants.