Local News

Gov. Ricketts Announces Relaxed Directed Health Measures in Additional Regions, Issues Guidance to Resume Baseball & Softball in June

Yesterday, at his daily coronavirus press briefing, Governor Pete Ricketts announced that less restrictive Directed Health Measures (DHMs) will take effect in three additional regions in southern Nebraska on May 18, 2020.  These regions are the South Heartland, Public Health Solutions, and Two Rivers districts.

The Governor also issued guidance to resume baseball and softball in June, with enhanced physical distancing measures in place for the safety of athletes, coaches, and spectators.  Practices will be permitted starting on June 1st, and games can take place as of June 18th.  Department of Education Commissioner Matthew Blomstedt joined Gov. Ricketts to talk about the resumption of youth sports.   

Additionally, Governor Ricketts highlighted new business reopening guidelines posted online today by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).  These documents provide guidance to salons/barber shops, massage therapy services, and body art services as they reopen.

Gov. Ricketts: DHM Updates

·       Today, we are announcing that three more Local Health Departments (LHDs) will be moving to less restrictive Directed Health Measures effective May 18th.

o  South Heartland District

o  Public Health Solutions

o  Two Rivers

§  The revised DHMs for these three districts (effective May 18th), as well as the new DHM for the Elkhorn Logan Valley Public Health Department (effective May 13th), are available here.

§  A map of Nebraska’s LHDs is available at dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/Local-Health-Departments.aspx.

·       These less restrictive DHMs:

o  Allow for the limited reopening of dine-in services at restaurants and of salons, barber shops, tattoo parlors, and massage therapy services. 

o  Increase the per room/space childcare limits from 10 to 15 kids (subject to the usual child-to-staff ratios).

·       Decisions to revise the DHMs for these regions were made in consultation with local health departments.

Gov. Ricketts: Sports

·       We have been receiving a lot of questions about youth sports.

·       We want to encourage people to take advantage of the outdoors with appropriately socially distanced exercise.

·       Through May 31st:

o  The current DHM prohibits organized team sports for youth and adults through May 31, 2020.  It will remain in effect through the end of the month.

·       Starting June 1st:

o  Schools are permitted to open weight rooms for use by all student-athletes as long as they follow the same guidelines as fitness centers/clubs, gymnasiums, health clubs, and health spas.

o  Organized team practices for baseball and softball may begin unless circumstances dictate a change in date.

·       Starting June 18th:

o  Baseball and softball games may begin unless circumstances dictate a change in date.

·       Detailed guidelines for the play of organized baseball and softball are available by clicking here.  

Commissioner Blomstedt: Sports

·       We’re exploring what’s safe and what works best for team sports.

·       As we restart baseball and softball, we expect to learn best practices for mitigating the spread of the virus that we can apply to other sports.

·       For instance, in developing guidelines for baseball and softball, we’ve identified safety protocols—such as not sharing drinks or snacks and using your own equipment—that are transferable to other activities.

·       We’ll also figure out protocols for the safe use of school facilities.

·       We’ll share these insights and best practices onwww.launchne.com.

Gov. Ricketts: TestNebraska

·       We continue to encourage people to take theTestNebraska.com assessment. 

·       So far, we’ve received 2,358 test results from our Test Nebraska mobile testing sites.  Of these tests, 80 have been positive.

·       Today, we’re announcing plans to open a mobile testing site in Lexington.

o  Test Nebraska sites in Schuyler, Grand Island, Lincoln, and Omaha are also ongoing this week.

o  More mobile testing sites will be announced in the near future.

·       On Friday, we opened up the opportunity for testing through Test Nebraska to anyone 65 and older.

o  Scheduling for testing has filled up quickly for Lincoln and Omaha.

o  More testing slots will be opening up, so we encourage people to be patient.

o  We also understand that the DHHS coronavirus hotline has been seeing a significant uptick in phone calls over the weekend.

o  We ask for your patience.  We are working to provide additional support so our team can help resolve questions you may have.

Gov. Ricketts: Election on May 12th

·       Tomorrow is Election Day.

·       I want to remind people who have not turned in their early ballot to drop it off at their local election office.  Do not mail it.

·       I also want to assure people who are voting in-person that the Secretary of State has taken significant steps to make sure people can vote safely.

·       Additionally, I have signed an Executive Order allowing for the Nebraska National Guard to provide support for poll workers tomorrow.

o  Our Guardsmen and women are receiving poll worker training today.

o  They will provide support to the following counties at the request of the Secretary of State:

§  Dakota, Dawson, Douglas, Hall, Lancaster, Lincoln, Madison, and Scotts Bluff.

Gov. Ricketts: Guidelines for Reopening Businesses

·       Today, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) posted guidance for additional business sectors as they reopen.

·       Reopening guidelines are now available for salons/barber shops, massage therapy services, and body art services byclicking here.