Public support key to success of new directed measures

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Officials hoped lifting most virus restrictions last month wouldn’t allow allow the number of new COVID-19 cases to increase the way they have, but it turns out that was wishful thinking.

Like fashion fads and other trends, the coronavirus took its time to arrive in the heartland, but arrive it has.

Nebraska has the dubious honor of ranking No. 5 in the rate of new cases per 100,000 residents over the past two weeks, 531.86, according to an Associated Press analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.

The state said a record 343 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 after it reported 734 new cases of the virus Sunday to give Nebraska 58,068 cases since the pandemic began. There have also been 548 deaths linked to the virus.

Stopping short of imposing a statewide mask mandate,

According to restrictions announced by Ricketts, hospitals will have to reserve 10% of their intensive care beds for COVID-19 patients if they want to continue offering elective surgeries, and they can’t transfer patients to other hospitals to achieve that level.

Ricketts, who had received some criticism for failure to speak out sooner, said official response has been effective, but called for more buy-in from private citizens.

He’s correct in making that plea; we’ve heard of instances where schools in other parts of the state have canceled official dances, but parents have hosted unofficial gatherings that turned into super-spreader events, penalizing even responsible students who didn’t attend the gatherings.

Reluctantly, despite social distancing plans in place, the Gazette has decided to cancel our Halloween Parade because of the increasing number of COVID-19 cases.

That decision was influenced in part by the number of COVID-19 cases and quarantines in the local schools.

As a reminder, changes to the state’s DHMs effective Wednesday include:

• Elective Procedures/Surgeries

• In order to continue elective procedures, hospitals must maintain at least 10% of their staffed general and ICU beds as reserve capacity to treat COVID-19 patients.

• Hospitals must continue to accept and treat COVID-19 patients and must not transfer COVID-19 patients to create capacity for elective procedures.

• Bars & Restaurants

• Patrons will be required to be seated while on premise unless they are placing an order, using the restroom, or playing games.

• 100% of rated occupancy continues.

• Maximum of eight (8) individuals in a party (groups larger than eight (8) will need to split into multiple tables).

• Gatherings

• INDOOR Gatherings will be limited to 50% of rated occupancy (not to exceed 10,000).

• OUTDOOR Gatherings will remain at 100% of rated occupancy (not to exceed 10,000).

• Gatherings include but are not limited to Indoor or Outdoor Arenas, Indoor or Outdoor Auctions, Stadiums, Tracks, Fairgrounds, Festivals, Zoos, Auditoriums, Large Event Conference Rooms, Meeting Halls, Indoor Theaters, Libraries, Swimming Pools, or any other confined indoor or outdoor space.

• Groups shall be no larger than eight (8) individuals.

• Plans for reopening or expanding to new capacity limits must be submitted to the local health departments and approved for all indoor and outdoor locations/venues that hold 500 or more individuals (1,000 or more in counties over 500,000 population) before reopening is permitted. The reopening plan must contain planned number of guests, how the location will meet social distancing guidelines, and sanitation guidelines.

• Wedding & Funeral Reception Venues

• Maximum of eight (8) individuals in a party (groups larger than eight (8) will need to split into multiple tables).

• 100% of rated occupancy continues.

• Limited dances or other social events requiring guests to gather outside of their respective tables in guidance.

The DHM changes listed above are scheduled to remain in effect through Nov. 30, 2020.

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