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Gov. Ricketts urges all limit Thanksgiving gatherings in size as case numbers increase

Published: Nov. 20, 2020 at 11:49 AM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts gave an update on the state’s COVID-19 response Friday afternoon and warned residents to limit the size of their Thanksgiving gatherings this holiday.

“Normally, we would have a big family get-together but we’ve really broken it down now into individual family groups,” Ricketts said. He also encouraged gatherings to be outside if possible or to increase ventilation at home by opening windows, weather permitting.

Addressing a recent backlog in COVID-19 results, Chief Data Strategist of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services Ashley Newmyer said contact tracing remains an important tool in combating the pandemic.

“Because of the surge in cases, our contact tracers have experienced a backlog,” she said. About 2,600 positive cases still need to be “closed out, as we have not completed our two call attempts.”

Newmyer estimated they expect to be through the backlog by the end of next week.

Ricketts again cautioned all to avoid groups, wear a mask and wash their hands.

“If we want to avoid further restrictions, we have to work together,” he said.

As of Friday, there were 983 active COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state while the 14 day average for staffed hospital beds was 4,525.

“Nebraskans should be prepared if we hit that red zone, even before the holiday,” he said.

Q&A

Ricketts was asked if there were concerns about out-of-state hunters coming to Nebraska for pheasant season. He said, while turkey hunting season was curtailed, he has not heard any issues regarding pheasant hunting season.

On the timetable for vaccines becoming available, Ricketts said the FDA will need to review the results from pharmaceutical companies to verify findings which will take about two weeks. He estimated the government will begin distribution of a potential vaccine in December.

“It will be distributed on a per capita basis and health care workers will be the first,” he said.

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