Joint Information Center Update
March 23, 2020 (LINCOLN, Neb.) While the response to COVID-19 is uppermost in all Nebraskans’ minds, it is important to remember that March 22-28 is Nebraska Severe Weather Awareness Week, and we all need to make sure we are prepared for the season.
When a tornado warning is issued for your area, you should take action to protect yourself and your family. Move to an interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy building and make sure to avoid windows. Put as many walls between you and the outdoors as possible. If you are in a mobile home, a vehicle or outdoors, move to the closest substantial shelter, and protect yourself from flying debris.
While the need for social distancing is important in preventing the spread of COVID-19, you must respond to the immediate life safety needs surrounding the issuance of a tornado warning in your area. Seek shelter as soon as possible if a tornado warning is issued. Stay near your shelter when severe weather is imminent. Do not travel when severe weather is threatening.
For more spring and summer severe weather preparedness information visit: https://nema.nebraska.gov/operations/spring-and-summer-severe-weather-preparedness
Governor Pete Ricketts’ Office Gov. Ricketts’s news releases
The unicameral has reconvened for a three day session starting today and will vote on emergency need for the state.
Small Business Administration Designation:
- Visit SBA.gov/disaster
- Call 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or
- E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services and its partners continue to track the unfolding outbreak of respiratory illness caused COVID-19 and anticipate its impact on Nebraska and its health care system. Nebraska case information is updated as new numbers are available on the DHHS website. Current case numbers are:
- Total number of cases: 52
- Cases that tested negative 972 (Please note: case numbers are updated several times daily.)
DHHS reminds you of the importance of Flattening The Curve - History Tells Us Why Community Mitigation Strategies Matter
The Nebraska COVID-19 Information Line is (402) 552-6645. It is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. CST – every day.
- State agencies are sharing information using the #NECOVID19 Hashtag
- DHHS has produced COVID-19 Public Service Announcements which are available in English and En Español
- Health Care Provider Information (HAN)
The outbreak of COVID-19 may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about and your community stronger.
Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. How you respond to the outbreak can depend on your background, the things that make you different from other people, and the community you live in.
Things you can do to support yourself
- Take breaks from watching, reading or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
- Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Make time to unwind. Try to do some activities you enjoy.
- Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.
Here are some free behavioral health resources available for the public:
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Disaster Distress Talk with a counselor, a doctor, or a clergy member anytime of the day or week. Help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Interpreters are available as well.
Hotline: 1-800-985-5990 Messaging: text TalkWithUs to 66746.
More information: https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/disaster-distress-helpline
Boys Town National Hotline
The Boys Town National Hotline is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and is staffed by specially trained Boys Town counselors. This is a great resource for parents/caregivers and families.
Hotline: 1-800-448-3000. Email for speech- and hearing-impaired: email@example.com.
More information: https://www.boystown.org/hotline/Pages/default.aspx
The Nebraska Family Helpline
A great resource for families concerned about a youth experiencing mental or behavioral health issues. Assistance is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
More information: http://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/Nebraska-Family-Helpline.aspx
Nebraska Emergency Management Agency NEMA news releases
NEMA is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to meet the demands for personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing supplies for the state through new acquisition, Department of Defense allocation or Strategic National Stockpile sources.
FEMA, in coordination with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is assisting state, local, tribal, territorial governments and other eligible entities, with the health and safety actions they take on behalf of the American public. All 50 states, the District of Columbia, five territories and one tribe are working directly with FEMA under the nationwide emergency declaration for COVID-19.
To help the American public distinguish between rumors and facts regarding the response to COVID-19, FEMA has created a Rumor Control page on FEMA.gov. The public can help control the spread of rumors by sharing our page: fema.gov/coronavirus.
Department of Corrections https://corrections.nebraska.gov/ndcs-coronavirus-health-update
The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS) is working to help minimize the transmission of COVID-19. Team members and people incarcerated in its facilities have been advised that sanitary precautions are currently the best defense against contracting the illness.
Department of Economic Development https://opportunity.nebraska.gov/nded-covid19/
DED is working to inform and assist businesses during Nebraska’s ongoing response to COVID-19. Information for businesses is available on the DED website. DED is committed to serving Nebraskans facing financial challenges during this time, and understands that local economic leaders will play an important role in creating regional solutions for businesses and their workforce. The department’s Field Services Team is working with business leaders in these regions to address ongoing COVID challenges.
Department of Environment and Energy http://dee.ne.gov
The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy’s Wastewater Division would like to remind people that sanitizing wipes, baby wipes and even “flushable” wipes are not flushable — regardless of what the product states. Flushed wipes cause sewer system blockages, resulting in overflows from manholes and basement backups. This can lead to expensive repairs and damage to your municipal systems or homes. Please throw sanitizing wipes in the trash.
Department of Labor Unemployment Insurance Information
Unemployment claims should be filed online at NEworks.nebraska.gov or on the free NEworks mobile app. For more information visit: Short-Time Compensation FAQs https://dol.nebraska.gov/PressRelease/Details/141
Department of Motor Vehicles DMV news releases
The DMV has generated a series of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) documents to assist customers with how the Governor’s recent executive order may impact them. Answers to specific questions can be found under the News Releases section of the DMV website here.
Department of Revenue, Lottery https://nelottery.com/homeapp/article/4220/display
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.
Department of Transportation
NDOT reopened all rest areas on Friday, March 20 in an effort to support those transporting vital goods and services across the nation to those who need it most. Contractors on site will clean and sanitize the buildings during normal daytime hours. Travelers are reminded to wash hands, avoid unnecessary touching of surfaces and to maintain social distancing whenever possible. Continue to check 511.nebraska.gov for updated information on availability.
Game and Parks http://outdoornebraska.gov/healthinfo/
- Nebraska Game and Parks’ public buildings are temporarily closed to public walk-in traffic until further notice. A list can be found at http://outdoornebraska.gov/healthinfo/
- All events and activities are cancelled through May 31 or until further notice.
- State parks and recreation areas grounds remain open for day-use, fishing and recreation.
- Park permits, fishing permits, and hunting permits should be purchased in advance online at OutdoorNebraska.org.
- In a proactive state and national effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the health of its customers and staff, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is closing viewing blinds to public access. The commission aims to protect its staff and customers by removing opportunities for crowds to gather at facilities and events and by maintaining clean areas that are available to the public.
- Enjoying the crane migration is available by using several driving routes from North Platte to Hershey. Buffalo Bill Ranch State Recreation Area has a scenic drive-through where cranes can be seen flying across the North Platte River and feeding in the adjacent meadows. Early mornings and late evenings, you can watch the cranes fly over the North Platte River at Cody Park in North Platte. The North Platte/Lincoln County Visitors Bureau has a self-guided Sandhill crane driving route brochure, which is available from their office located at 101 Halligan Dr. or online at visitnorthplatte.com/outdoor-recreation/
Nebraska Attorney General’s Office COVID 19 Information
Attorney General Doug Peterson reports: “During the COVID-19 health crisis, we are confident that Nebraskans will work together to look out and care for their family and neighbors. However, we caution consumers to be aware that fraudulent scams often occur during such crises. We encourage people to contact our office online (email: firstname.lastname@example.org) or file complaints through our website: ProtectTheGoodLife.Nebraska.Gov if they believe a scam or fraud is occurring. We will investigate, and when possible, prosecute to the fullest extent.”
The Attorney General’s Office remains operational at both locations with essential personnel. Phone lines are being answered. Nebraskans are encouraged to call, email or submit concerns online because of the necessary social distancing needed to protect the community. Consumer protection concerns are encouraged to be submitted via ProtectTheGoodLife.Nebraska.Gov. We have a designated page that will be updated with consumer information during response to COVID-19: https://protectthegoodlife.nebraska.gov/coronavirus-consumer-protection.
Nebraska Military Department
- All unit training assemblies for the remainder of March and all of April have been postponed.
- Mission critical activities continue, such as units preparing to deploy overseas and aircraft flight crews maintaining qualification.
- The Army Basic Leader Course at Camp Ashland for March was accelerated and concluded March 21, five days ahead of schedule.
- The Army Basic Leader Course scheduled for April at Camp Ashland will not be conducted in-person, but distance learning options are being evaluated.
- Maintaining mission readiness and the health of our force are our top priorities, to be always ready when called upon, not only for COVID-19 response but other potential emergencies as well.
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
The OCIO askes Nebraskans to be aware that there are many reports of social media pleas, texts or calls related to COVID-19 and that all Nebraskans should avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails and be wary of email attachments. They ask that everyone use trusted sources—such as legitimate, government websites—for up-to-date, fact-based information about COVID-19. Tips for Using Caution with Email Attachments: https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/tips/ST04-010 Tips for Avoiding Social Engineering and Phishing Attacks: https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/tips/ST04-014
Public Service Commission
Telecommunications Carriers doing business in Nebraska are asked to take the “Keep Nebraskans Connected” pledge. The pledge is similar to the FCC’s Keep Americans Connected pledge only for Nebraskans. Carriers that have agreed to participate are listed at: http://tiny.cc/KeepNebraskansConnected
State Fire Marshal
Inspections of nursing homes, hospitals and assisted living facilities by the State Fire Marshal’s office have been suspended until April 8. In addition, training classes administered by NSFM training specialists are canceled through March 31.
A virtual visitor system to keep veterans’ home members and their families connected while the facilities are limiting entry has been launched by the Nebraska Department of Veterans’ Affairs (NDVA). Access to the four state veterans’ homes is currently limited to NDVA teammates and medical professionals only, as a precaution against COVID-19 exposure.
The Lancaster County Veteran’s Service Center is closed to the public. The office is open but no longer accepting walk-ins for claims assistance and other in-person services. Veterans with claims specific or other questions may request information via email at email@example.com or by telephone at 402-441-7361. Veterans can continue to get information about benefits by visiting www.lancaster.ne.gov/484/veterans-service-center.
County Courthouse Updates https://nacone.org/pdfs/COVID-19/COVID%20-%2019%20Map.pdf
Key Facts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cdc.gov/COVID-19
FACT 1 — Diseases can make anyone sick regardless of their race or ethnicity. Fear and anxiety about COVID-19 can cause people to avoid or reject others even though they are not at risk for spreading the virus.
FACT 2 — For most people, the immediate risk of becoming seriously ill from the virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to be low. Older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions may be at higher risk for more serious complications from COVID-19.
FACT 3 — Someone who has completed quarantine or has been released from isolation does not pose a risk of infection to other people. For up-to-date information, visit CDC’s coronavirus disease situation summary page.
FACT 4 — There are simple things you can do to help keep yourself and others healthy.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
FACT 5 — You can help stop COVID-19 by knowing the signs and symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
Seek medical advice if you develop symptoms AND have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 OR live in or have recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19.
Call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room. Tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
Resources collected by the Nebraska Association of Emergency Management:
Please verify the source of all information you receive regarding COVID-19. Not all information shared online or via social media is accurate. Misunderstandings can cause confusion. Please do your part to make sure accurate information is being dispersed. The following are some of the rumors (myths) being circulated regarding COVID-19 as well as the verified information from the Nebraska Joint Information Center public information officers.
MYTH: Omaha residents have been asked to shelter in place.
FACT: There is no lockdown in Omaha
MYTH: The National Guard has been activated to lock down Omaha, cordon off Omaha or cordon off the four counties affected by the Directed Health Measure (DHM).
FACT: No, the guard has not been activated to lockdown Omaha or the four counties under the Directed Health Measure (DHM).
The DHM imposed an enforceable limit on public gatherings and applies to all communities in Cass, Douglas, Sarpy and Washington counties. The measure was a result of Douglas County Public Health Department’s confirmation on March 19 of a second case of community transmission of COVID-19.
The DHM will be in effect until April 30. It requires restaurants and bars in these counties to close their dining areas and move to takeout service, delivery and/or curbside service only until further notice. Additionally, schools in these areas are directed to operate without students in their buildings. This restriction does not apply to school staff working in school buildings.
MYTH: I need to stockpile as many groceries and supplies as I can.
FACT: Buy what your family needs for a week. Consumer demand has been exceptionally high for grocery, household cleaning and some healthcare products. Freight flows are not disrupted, but stores need time to restock.
Every American has a role to play.
- Do your part to prevent rumors by verifying the source of information.
- You can also consider donating cash, giving blood or volunteering your time to help fight COVID-19.