Nebraska Joint Information Center Update
RELEASE DATE: Apr 21, 2020
COVID-19 Case Updates
Nebraska Nebraska COVID-19 topped 1,000 with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services Thursday evening report of 1,066 cases.
As of April 21, the case numbers for Nebraska were:
1,648 positive tests — 14,724 negative tests — 33 deaths
Nebraska numbers include negative results from NPHL and commercial labs. Both state and local health departments are testing and publicly reporting their cases. In the event of a discrepancy between DHHS cases and cases reported by local public health officials, data reported by the local health department should be considered the most up-to-date.
The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) data dashboard provides daily updates to the state’s COVID-19 case totals and is online at http://dhhs.ne.gov/coronavirus
U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website reports today:
776,093 cases — 41,758 deaths
These statistics include both confirmed and presumptive positive cases of COVID-19. https://www.cdc.gov/covid19.
2,324,621 cases — 157,847 deaths
2,531,804 cases — 174,336 deaths
State of Nebraska Updates
Gov. Pete Ricketts’ Office https://governor.nebraska.gov
NEW At his 2 p.m. news conference today, Gov. Ricketts introduced Test Nebraska, a new program that will assess, test and track COVID-19 cases in Nebraska. Nebraskans can visit testnebraska.com to complete an online assessment. The program is designed to increase the number of tests done in Nebraska. Ricketts said the program will help the state significantly ramp up testing.
Gov. Ricketts said testing is important so spread of the virus in the state will slow. Rather than asking everyone to stay home, the increased testing will allow only those who test positive to stay home while those who test negative can return to work.
Ricketts said the testing will be free for Nebraskans and will give the state real-time information about COVID-19.
As part of the plan, Nebraskans are asked to take the #TestNebraskaChallenge and nominate five friends to take the test.
Today at 5 p.m. A Spanish-language press event is scheduled in the Governor’s Hearing Room. It will air live on facebook.
UPDATE Gov. Ricketts announced the state's first step to relax the health measures implemented to slow the spread of COVID-19 will begin on May 4 when elective surgeries may resume. Hospitals and healthcare facilities must meet requirements for available bed capacity and have adequate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Additionally, the governor announced that the state is giving greater authority to healthcare providers to conduct tests for COVID-19. As the state expands capacity to perform tests, healthcare providers can now choose to test a broader range of patients.
UPDATE Gov. Ricketts encourages Nebraskans to stay connected to friends and family during this time of social distancing. He especially urged those dealing with adversity to reach out for help and council.
Social distancing is helping slow the spread of the virus, but it also has negative consequences.
Many people will experience feelings of isolation, increased depression and a lack of social connectedness.
During this time of social distancing, it is important to stay connected.
There are hotlines available to help those in need. Reach out for help at:
Nebraska Family Helpline: 1-888-866-8660
Nebraska Rural Response Hotline: 1-800-464-0258
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
REMINDER Businesses have been asked to respond to a Business Response Survey to share what is happening to them with the COVID-19 pandemic at https://bit.ly/NE-Biz-Survey-2020. (For more information on the survey, see the Department of Economic Development portion of this news update below.)
REMINDER Nebraska is on Day 12 of 21 Days to Stay Home and Stay Healthy
Please follow these Six Rules to Keep Nebraska Healthy
Stay home. No non-essential errands and no social gatherings. Respect the 10-person limit.
Socially distance your work. Work from home or use the six-foot rule as much as possible in the workplace.
Shop alone and only shop once a week. Do not take family with you.
Help kids follow social distancing. Play at home. No group sports and no playgrounds.
Help seniors stay at home by shopping for them. Do not visit long-term care facilities.
Exercise daily at home or with an appropriately socially-distanced activity.
NEW DHHS sent out a Health Alert Network (HAN) today message calling for increased COVID-19 testing due to increased in-state capacity.
The increased availability of in-state and national laboratory testing capacity, and turnaround times running in the 2-4 day range has resulted in federal, state and local public health agencies asking providers to pivot away from clinical diagnosis of COVID-19 in favor of laboratory confirmation.
According to the HAN, widespread testing for COVID-19 virus is among the most critical tools in reducing the spread of COVID-19 disease, and enabling return to a more normal lifestyle. To read the HAN visit:
NEW DHHS will hold a Facebook Live event on Wednesday, April 22 at 12:30 p.m. with Sheri Dawson, director of the Division of Behavioral Health and Mikayla Johnson, disaster preparedness administrator for the Division of Behavioral Health to discuss strategies for dealing with anxiety and stress during COVID-19.
UPDATE The Nebraska Accommodation Project (NAP) has expanded to provide space for individuals who are required to quarantine or isolate because of COVID-19. The NAP program is a joint collaboration between the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the University of Nebraska and the Nebraska National Guard.
The program for the general public will be rolled out in Omaha and other localities will follow. Dormitories on the University of Nebraska Omaha UNO campus will be used for those who are interested and who meet the criteria for accommodation. The program differs from the first responders lodging program announced last week in that individuals who are under quarantine or isolation will not be able to leave these facilities until their quarantine or isolation periods have ended.
The goal of this program is to offer temporary housing to Nebraskans who have been exposed to COVID-19 and who are in need of a quarantine and/or isolation location outside of the normally defined household due to a high-risk household member. These accommodations will be available in a dormitory room setting and are open to anyone who meets the application criteria. Applications can be completed at http://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/Coronavirus. As the need for this program grows across the state, so will the number of locations.
A General Public FAQ is available at http://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx under the Nebraska Accommodation Project (NAP) header.
Nebraska COVID-19 Information Line: (402) 552-6645. Hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. CST – every day.
State agencies are sharing information using the #NECOVID19 Hashtag
DHHS has produced COVID-19 announcements available in English and En Español. Directed Health Measures translated in Spanish and Vietnamese are now available for Douglas, Cass, Sarpy and Lancaster counties. http://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx#SectionLink1
Review the Health Alert Network (HAN) for recent information and guidelines for health care providers.
Nebraska Emergency Management Agency https://nema.nebraska.gov/news
REMINDER NEMA has several Twitter lists you can follow by visiting https://twitter.com/NEMAtweets/lists. Consider Subscribing to the Nebraska State Government List or to the Nebraska County and Regional Emergency Managers List.
REMINDER There is no essential staffing list maintained by the State of Nebraska for people who have jobs to perform. Individuals leaving their homes in order to perform an activity or function for their jobs DO NOT need to carry or present any letter, identification card or other paper proving that they are allowed to leave their home.
Attorney General’s Office
NEW Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson announced that his office is sending warning letters to healthcare providers and other businesses making deceptive or scientifically unsupported claims about their ability to test for coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Specifically, the Attorney General and Nebraska State Epidemiologist Dr. Tom Safranek, are concerned that those offering antibody (or serological) tests for COVID-19 are overstating the efficacy of the tests. Read more here.
Department of Administrative Services
A number of state agencies and private organizations have received inquiries from Nebraska manufacturers that have the capabilities to provide needed medical equipment for hospitals and medical providers. The Nebraska Department of Administrative Services (DAS) has partnered with the Nebraska Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NMEP) to help organize the manufacturers with these capabilities and connect them with the medical community.
For manufacturers please visit https://go.unl.edu/criticalmanufacturing to register your company and list the products your company is able to produce in short deadlines. For people in the medical community that want to access these companies and order needed supplies, please contact: Doug Carlson, Chief Procurement Officer for the State of Nebraska, email@example.com, 402-471-0972
Department of Agriculture (NDA) nda.nebraska.gov
Farmers Markets: The Nebraska Department of Agriculture has created guidance for farmers markets to help keep vendors and customers healthy and to slow the spread of COVID-19. All farmers market operators should first consult with their local health department to ensure that the market is able to meet all local health department guidelines. Farmers market guidance and additional information for agriculture producers can be found on NDA’s website at: www.nda.nebraska.gov/COVID-19.
Face Coverings Needed for Grocery Store Employees: NDA also wants to thank the dedicated employees of grocery stores across the state that are helping to move food to consumers. We are relaying a message from the Nebraska Grocery Industry Association that says many grocery stores are having trouble finding face coverings for their employees and are currently seeking them for added protection to their staff so they can stay healthy and keep serving customers. If you or someone you know are sewing face coverings, we encourage you to call your local grocery store and see if they are in need.
Department of Banking and Finance
The Nebraska Department of Banking and Finance extended the expiration dates of two orders previously issued to assist registrants under the Securities Act of Nebraska, from April 30 to May 31, 2020.
The department has posted a link for citizens to check the status of their stimulus payment.
Department of Corrections corrections.nebraska.gov
NDCS has COVID-19 related information on its webpage at https://corrections.nebraska.gov/ndcs-coronavirus-health-update.
Department of Economic Development https://opportunity.nebraska.gov/nded-covid19/
Business owners or nonprofit leaders are being asked to fill out a survey to report on how COVID-19 has impacted their organizations. The response will help the State of Nebraska, the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce, the University of Nebraska and other partners understand the impact coronavirus has had on revenue and workforce—and find the best ways to support our business and nonprofit community during this crisis. Make your voice heard at https://bit.ly/NE-Biz-Survey-2020.
The Nebraska Department of Economic Development, the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce, the University of Nebraska and other business-related organizations are reaching out to Nebraska businesses to better understand the initial and potential future impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on the revenue and workforce of business organizations.
The goal is to find the best ways to support the Nebraska business community. The Nebraska Business Development Center (NBDC) at the University of Nebraska is working with Dr. Josie Schafer at UNO’s Center for Public Affairs Research (CPAR)—and in collaboration with Dr. Eric Thompson at UNL, Dr. Dave Dearmont at the Nebraska Department of Economic Development and Pete Thompson at the Omaha Chamber—to develop a survey for Nebraska businesses. CPAR will capture the survey results and publish the statewide report. The survey will be in both English and Spanish language versions.
Applies to non-profit leaders as well as business leaders
We want to understand challenges as we develop support strategies
Survey will help as we work to restore growth/plan for the future
The survey launched today at 2 pm and will run through Friday, April 24 at 5 p.m. (10 days total).
Department of Environment and Energy http://dee.ne.gov
NDEE has issued guidance for indoor and outdoor pools during the COVID-19 pandemic. The department recommends pools, spas and spray parks carefully evaluate state and local Directed Health Measures, and close or delay opening until they are lifted.
Current Centers for Disease Control guidance states the novel Coronavirus is not spread in pool water if proper pool chemistry is maintained; however, there is a concern for common areas and people being in close contact.
For more information, please refer to the memo on our COVID-19 page.
Department of Insurance
CARES Act payments will have no impact on ACA Marketplace subsidies according to the Nebraska Department of Insurance.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, calls for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to make economic impact payments of up to $1,200 per taxpayer and $500 for each qualifying child, adjusted based on income. The federal government has announced that any money received due to the CARES Act does not need to be included as income on an application for individual health insurance coverage through healthcare.gov.
In addition, payments received through the CARES Act do not impact an individual’s eligibility for financial assistance for health care coverage through the Marketplace or eligibility for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). For more information, visit IRS Coronavirus Tax Relief or https://www.healthcare.gov/coronavirus/.
Department of Labor NEworks.nebraska.gov and dol.nebraska.gov
The Nebraska Department of Labor (NDOL) reported that 15,994 new unemployment insurance claims were filed during the week ending April 11, 2020. That was a decrease of 40 percent from the previous week when 26,539, a record high, initial claims were filed. During the past four weeks, 82,682 initial claims have been filed; there were 41,727 filed in the entire 2019 calendar year. Spreadsheets showing claims data are available here and will be updated every Thursday.
Initial claims are filed by individuals to request a determination of eligibility for unemployment insurance benefits. NDOL processes initial unemployment insurance claims and, if an individual meets eligibility criteria, benefits are paid for each week of continued unemployment.
Claims by Industry
The highest counts of initial claims were in the retail trade industry (2,711), which decreased 27.5 percent from the prior week (3,744). All industries had declines in initial claims from the prior week except for the Information sector, which saw an increase of 7.3 percent.
Filing A Claim
Any worker in a non-paid status due to COVID-19 may file a claim for unemployment insurance benefits. Unemployment claims in Nebraska are filed online at NEworks.nebraska.gov. The NEworks mobile app is available to download for free. After filing a new initial claim, applicants must certify their eligibility every week that they continue to be unemployed by logging into their NEworks account. These weekly certifications must be completed even while the new claim is still being processed. Claim and payment status can also be viewed by logging into the NEworks account.
The federal CARES Act created a temporary program that offers benefits to individuals not eligible for regular unemployment insurance benefits including the self-employed, independent contractors, gig workers, and others (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or PUA). The Act also increases the amount an individual on regular unemployment or PUA will receive by $600 per week through July 25. Workers who have been affected by the pandemic should file a claim for unemployment. NDOL will automatically review every claim that comes in for eligibility under the CARES Act.
Department of Motor Vehicles DMV news releases
Department of Natural Resources
On April 23, 125 years ago, NeDNR began its mission to safeguard Nebraska’s most precious natural resource through sound partnerships, cooperation and science-based decision making to help grow Nebraska’s future. Our agency continues to ensure that critical water-related information remains available (see https://dnr.nebraska.gov/.) Be assured that our staff continue to update vital information, including real-time streamgaging information, during this pandemic.
To support National Flood Insurance Program policyholders amid the COVID-19 pandemic, FEMA is extending its 30-day grace period for policy renewals up to 120 days. This is effective for National Flood Insurance Program policies with an expiration date between February 13 – June 15, 2020.
For more information, visit the FEMA website https://nfipservices.floodsmart.gov/
FEMA also has some guidance on flood insurance claims during this time. It allows for the claims to be adjusted remotely without an adjustor visiting the property.
Department of Revenue
During the COVID-19 pandemic, as the Nebraska Department of Revenue provides guidance, direction, or pertinent public information such items may be found here. The most current information will be posted to the department’s website under “Featured Information”. Taxpayer Assistance is also available online and by phone, and contact information may be found here.
Nebraska Lottery players with prizes up to $19,999 are encouraged to claim by mail. Instructions for claiming prizes by mail can be found at https://nelottery.com/homeapp/article/4220/display Regional Lottery Claim Centers in Grand Island, Norfolk, North Platte, and Scottsbluff are closed to the public, but Nebraska Lottery headquarters in Lincoln and the Omaha Claim Center are open. Call 402-471-6100 to confirm office hours before claiming a prize in person at these locations.
Game and Parks Commission http://outdoornebraska.gov/healthinfo/
In a proactive effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is prohibiting overnight camping at state parks, state recreation areas and wildlife management areas through Friday, May 8 and state park area lodging and cabins are closed through May 8 as well.
For a list of all Game and Parks cancellations, postponements and closures, go to: OutdoorNebraska.org/healthinfo. For more detailed information about how coronavirus cancellations may affect customers, check the Frequently Asked Questions page at OutdoorNebraska.gov/covid19faqs or use the Contact Us form at OutdoorNebraska.gov/contact. Past news release are available online: http://magazine.outdoornebraska.gov/category/news/
NEW A total of 303 Nebraska National Guard Soldiers and Airmen are supporting COVID-19 response efforts in Nebraska. Three mobile testing teams continue to provide support to local health districts. As of April 20, the teams have collected 2,205 test samples in 12 counties across the state in support of local health districts.
Teams are providing housing staff support for the Nebraska Accommodation Project on college campuses throughout the state. Distribution of Personal Protective Equipment PPEPE from Lincoln to health districts is ongoing. The Nebraska National Guard continues to provide logistical and planning support to its local, state and federal partners.National Guard personnel supporting COVID-19 response are receiving health checks themselves at least twice daily.
The Nebraska National Guard will be updating this album with photos throughout the COVID-19 response
Nebraska Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (NCDHH)
NCDHH has the following VLOGs online relating to COVID-19:
COVID-19: Educational Resources & Communication Access NCDHH Executive Director John Wyvill discusses the importance of ensuring you and your child are prepared and receiving education information during transition to remote-learning.
COVID-19: Deaf and Hard of Hearing Organizations Stress Importance of Communication Access NCDHH Behavioral Health Coordinator Carly Weyers provides information on how to best keep informed with full communication access on announcements related to COVID-19.
COVID-19: NCDHH Offices and Social Distancing Information regarding preventative measures to keep you and the NCDHH team healthy featuring Behavioral Health Coordinator, Carly Weyers.
Nebraska State Fire Marshal’s Office
The Nebraska State Fire Marshal has developed an electronic burn permit that can be used by fire chiefs across the state beginning today. It allows fire departments to review, approve and issue burn permits without having to meet in-person with those who are requesting them, thus promoting social distancing and reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission to the firefighting community.
To obtain a PDF copy of the electronic burn permit, or to find out more, a fire chief can contact Assistant State Fire Marshal Doug Hohbein by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and request one. Requirements for the proper issuance and use of the permit are included on page 2 of the permit.
The issuance and use of electronic burn permits will terminate 30 days after the COVID-19 declared State of Emergency has been withdrawn.”
Nebraska State Patrol
REMINDER Nebraska State Troopers have seen a dramatic increase in excessive speeding violations over the last few weeks and would like to remind drivers to observe the posted speed limits. Any motorist who observes a dangerous or impaired driver can call *55 or 800-525-5555 to reach NSP dispatchers, who will share that information with troopers on the road. NSP’s patrol efforts remain at normal staffing levels throughout the state.
Nebraska State Treasurer’s Office
Due to the COVID-19 health crisis, the Unclaimed Property Division offices are closed to the public. Treasurer’s Office staff are available by phone at 402-471-8497 or 877-572-9688 and will continue to process claims mailed into the Lincoln office or filed online.
Office of the Chief Information Officer Website
Malicious cyber threat actors are capitalizing on the global attention surrounding COVID-19 to facilitate scams, distribute malware, and send phishing emails. We ask all Nebraskans to practice the following safe security habits online:
Exercise caution in handling any email with a COVID-19-related subject line, attachment or hyperlink, and be wary of social media pleas, texts or calls related to COVID-19. Tips for Avoiding Social Engineering and Phishing Attacks: https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/tips/ST04-014
Avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails and be wary of email attachments. Tips for Using Caution with Email Attachments: https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/tips/ST04-010
Use trusted sources—such as legitimate, government websites—for up-to-date, fact-based information about COVID-19.
Look at the email address, not just the sender. A genuine email from a legitimate organization would have the organization’s name in the domain name, indicating that it is coming from someone at the organization.
Do not reveal personal or financial information in an email, and do not respond to email solicitations for this information.
Verify a charity’s authenticity before making donations.
Look for obvious grammatical errors and be wary of any emails that have implied consequences for failure to comply with demands.
Communications platforms guidance for individuals and organizations
Due to COVID-19, an increasing number of individuals and organizations are turning to communications platforms—such as Webex, Zoom and Microsoft Teams— for online meetings. In turn, malicious cyber actors are hijacking online meetings that are not secured with passwords or that use unpatched software.
Tips for defending against online meeting hijacking
Do not make meetings public. Instead, require a meeting password or use the waiting room feature and control the admittance of guests.
Do not share a link to a meeting on an unrestricted publicly available social media post. Provide the link directly to specific people.
Manage screen sharing options. Change screen sharing to “Host Only.”
Ensure users are using the updated version of remote access/meeting applications.
Ensure telework policies address requirements for physical and information security.
For more information visit: https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/alerts/aa20-099a
Public Service Commission
The PSC State 911 Department is also sharing COVID-19 guidance for Nebraska Public Service Answering Points (PSAPs) on our State 911 Department webpage @ http://tiny.cc/PSAPCOVID19Guidance
Secretary of State’s Office
The last day to request an early mail-in ballot is at May 1 at 6 p.m.
Nebraskans have begun to return their completed ballots.
Voters have options to choose from when returning their completed ballots
Return it by mail
Drop it off in the secure voter box located outside at the county building
Give it to a trusted friend or family member to return. ***If you choose this option. It is important that you give your ballot to a trusted friend or family member.
Voters have until May 12 before the polls close to return their completed ballot.
State Partner Updates
American Red Cross
In coordination with the FDA, the Red Cross, along with blood industry partners, is seeking people who are fully recovered from the new coronavirus to sign up to donate plasma to help current COVID-19 patients. People who have fully recovered from COVID-19 have antibodies in their plasma that can attack the virus. This convalescent plasma is being evaluated as treatment for patients with serious or immediately life-threatening COVID-19 infections, or those judged by a healthcare provider to be at high risk of progression to severe or life-threatening disease. To learn more, visit RedCrossBlood.org/plasma4covid.
Medical Reserve Corps and Community Emergency Response Teams
The Central Nebraska MRC assisted in the setup of a drive-thru testing site in Kearney. The Central Nebraska MRC has also been assisting local health departments with the pick up and distribution of Strategic National Stockpile supplies for COVID-19 response, and have been requested to assist in COVID-19 contact tracing for two local health departments.
MRC volunteers from both the Eastern Nebraska/Western Iowa MRC and the Southeast Nebraska have been supporting the Three Rivers Health Department with contact tracing and will continue to do so for the next few weeks. The Eastern Nebraska/Western Iowa and Southeast Nebraska are also working with Public Health Solutions in Crete to organize a deployment of members to the area to assist in COVID-19 response.
All MRCs and CERT teams remain at the ready throughout the state and are working with their local partners to better respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in Nebraska. The MRC Unit Coordinator Leadership has been working with DHHS to help affiliate volunteers to assist in local COVID-19 responses throughout Nebraska. Those interested in volunteering with their local MRC can contact Quinn Lewandowski at email@example.com.
Natural Resources Districts (NRDs):
On Arbor Day weekend (April 24-26), Nebraskans will participate in the statewide Nebraska Tree-A-Thon to celebrate #ArborDayAtHome by planting and celebrating trees. Communities are collaborating with a coalition including Beyond School Bells and afterschool providers, the Arbor Day Foundation, Natural Resources Districts, Audubon Nebraska, Nebraska Forest Service, Nebraska Department of Education and the University of Nebraska. Whether it is planting trees, going on a nature walk, making birdhouses or posting a tree selfie, Nebraska’s youth and their families are encouraged to join the Tree-A-Thon this year to collectively share in the importance of trees. Please join the Tree-A-Thon by posting a picture of your family planting and/or celebrating trees with hashtags: #netreeathon, #treeselfie and #arbordayathome.
NRD employees doing field work (checking well levels, testing water and soil, tree planting, etc.) are considered essential workers. Landowners and the public should allow them to do their work uninterrupted.
Want to visit an NRD recreation area? Check for closures and access limitations by visiting: www.nrdnet.org/recreation.
University of Nebraska Medical Center | Nebraska Medicine
UNMC experts answer questions about COVID-19 https://www.unmc.edu/coronavirus/media.html
Federal Partner Updates
Center for Disease Control and Prevention The CDC provides guidance on daily life and coping during
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) COVID-19 Federal Rural Resource Guide
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)/Center for Disease Control https://faq.coronavirus.gov/
National Institutes of Health https://www.nih.gov/health-information/coronavirus
Federal Bureau of Prisons https://www.bop.gov/coronavirus/index.jsp
Internal Revenue Service https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus-tax-relief-and-economic-impact-payments
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Coronavirus Veteran FAQ
U.S. Small Business Administration www.SBA.gov/Coronavirus