Nebraska leaders detail dental, restaurant guidelines

Published: Apr. 28, 2020 at 12:52 PM CDT
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Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, joined by medical experts representing dentistry in the state, spoke on health guidelines as medical facilities may begin performing elective surgeries May 4, and answered questions about his own involvement with a meat processing plant in Crete staying open.

Ricketts was asked if he would call for "Meatless May" to bring attention to the situation as such facilities are hotbeds for the virus.

"In regard to Meatless May, I cannot support that in any way, shape, or form. Meat is part of a healthy diet and we are working on keeping the plants open," Ricketts said.

Ricketts on meat processing plants

More testing is being done at the processing facilities in question, he added.

Ricketts was asked numerous times from various news organizations about the Smithfield Foods plant in Crete announcing Monday it was going to close, then reversed course and is remaining in operation.

"We received a call from Smithfield executives in the morning that they were planning on shutting down and later in the afternoon a call that they were remaining open," Ricketts said. "I actually did not talk to them until about 8 o'clock last night."

The plan for Smithfield is to have a review with state experts to help with social distancing guidelines, he said. More testing and contact tracing will be done in Crete, as well.

"We did not tell them to close or to stay open. We will not tell facilities to close," Ricketts said regarding processing plants. "We're working to keep these facilities open as they are a critical part of our nation's food supply."

Ricketts was asked if Nebraska should expect a meat shortage. He said he did not know as his wife is in charge of groceries at the Ricketts home, but it remains critical the plants remain open to feed the nation.

He was asked if mosquitos can spread the coronavirus. Ricketts referred the question to Director of Public Health Dr. Gary Anthone, who said it is not a bloodborne disease and is unlikely.

Another question involved if sunlight can kill the coronavirus on playground equipment. Anthone said perhaps after a few days but could not say for certain.

Guidelines for reopening Nebraska restaurants

Ricketts detailed guidelines for businesses like restaurants that may reopen beginning May 4 for dining-in.

Zoe Olson, Executive Director of the Nebraska Restaurant Association said reopening guidelines and the "Nebraska promise" will be posted inside all restaurants.

The promise is made both ways between restaurants and customers, she said, and all the guidelines and protocols will be available online.

"The promise is you will not come into our restaurants and dining rooms if you are showing any symptoms of COVID-19," she said. "Understand we are doing everything we can to make this the safest environment we can for the consumer."

Dentistry services resume May 4
Dr. Charles Craft

, Nebraska's Department of Health and Human Services Dental Health Director, said dental healthcare has been no exception to the impact of coronavirus on Nebraskans over the past few months.

"As we prepare to reopen elective dental services May 4, the DHHS... have been in constant communication and have pooled resources together to review information," he said from sources like the Centers for Disease Control.

More precautions will be in place for dental offices, like patient screening, enhanced personal protective equipment (PPE), infection control, and limits on certain procedures.

"It will mean a new normal for the dental world," Craft said. "The decision to remain open or closed is up to each practice."

Dr. Ken Tusha

, immediate past president of the Nebraska Dental Association said a list of protocols for dental offices will be available for the public to view.

"Guidelines include screening the team on a daily basis and patients who come in," Tusha said. "They may be sitting in their car talking to them on their cellphones when we do this."

Dentistry went through a similar episode in the 1980s with the AIDS crisis, Tusha said. That's when dentists began wearing gloves and masks.

"Rest assured, we got this. We will beat this," Tusha said.

Nebraska COVID-19 update

Gov. Pete Ricketts and other Nebraska officials give an update on the state's COVID-19 response. Updates:

Posted by WOWT 6 News on Tuesday, April 28, 2020

VEA AHORA como el Gobernador Ricketts provee una actualización sobre la respuesta del estado ante el #COVID19 y las formas en que los residentes de Nebraska pueden ayudar a prevenir la propagación del virus.

Posted by Governor Pete Ricketts on Tuesday, April 28, 2020