Gov. Ricketts Announces Phased Public Health Restrictions Tied to Coronavirus Hospitalization Rate

News Release
For Immediate Release: 11/13/2020

Media Contacts: 
Taylor Gage, (402) 471-1970
Justin Pinkerman, (402) 471-1967


Governor's Media Release:

LINCOLN – Today, Governor Pete Ricketts announced that Nebraska will take a phased approach to public health restrictions based on the percentage of staffed hospital beds occupied by coronavirus patients.  As soon as the percentage of coronavirus-related hospitalizations increases above certain thresholds, restrictions will be tightened.  If the percentage of coronavirus-related hospitalizations declines below the thresholds (on average, over a seven-day period) restrictions will be relaxed.  A document outlining each of the five, color-coded phases is available by clicking here.  Currently, Nebraska is in the “orange" phase, which is the second most restrictive.  

The State is issuing a new Directed Health Measure (DHM) effective statewide as of Monday, November 16th.  It temporarily halts elective surgeries that can wait four weeks or longer without substantially changing a patient's outcome.  In addition to the restriction on elective surgeries, the new DHM includes all of the health measures that took effect on November 11, 2020 (see an outline of these changes by clicking here).

Gov. Ricketts: Color-Coded Phases for Health Measures

  • We've been working to slow the spread of the virus while protecting hospital capacity.
  • However, coronavirus-related hospitalizations have been growing rapidly each day for weeks.  They've gone from 200 on September 23rd to over 900 today. 
  • This has created a very serious situation for our hospitals.
  • It's urgently important for all Nebraskans to take personal responsibility for wearing a mask, washing hands often, staying home when sick, and keeping six feet of social distance.
  • Even though we've put in new restrictions this week, the situation is changing rapidly enough that I want to give Nebraskans a picture of where things may be going.
  • We believe that Nebraska's hospital system will reach capacity when about 25% of hospital beds are occupied by coronavirus patients.
  • That is the point when hospitals may not be able to deliver the standard of care you deserve.
  • As I said yesterday, additional restrictions may be necessary to protect our hospital system.
  • Today, we are announcing that most elective surgeries will be suspended starting Monday.  This will help free up additional hospital beds.
  • Additionally, I am announcing a series of thresholds and triggers that will bring new restrictions into play or reduce them depending on hospitalizations.
  • Our collective decisions will determine where Nebraska goes from here.  It's on all of us to slow the spread in the coming days.
  • Working together, we can flatten the curve and help return Nebraska to a more normal life.

Gov. Ricketts: Thanksgiving     

  • With Thanksgiving only a couple weeks away, Nebraskans are making plans for the holidays.
  • Be advised that if we enter the “red" phase of our coronavirus plan, indoor gatherings will be restricted to 10 people or less.
  • I urge all Nebraskans to limit the size of their holiday gatherings to help slow the spread of coronavirus.  

Video from this afternoon's press conference is available by clicking here.

To see a chart of the restrictions in each colored phase of the State's coronavirus response, click here


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