Gov. Ricketts Urges Precautions to Slow Spread of Virus, Proclaims “Nurse Practitioner Week”

News Release
For Immediate Release: 11/12/2020

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


Governor's Media Release:

LINCOLN – This afternoon, Governor Pete Ricketts hosted a press conference to give an update on the State's response to the pandemic.  He reported that coronavirus-related hospitalizations continue to increase across the state, rising to a high of 885 this week.  The Governor urged Nebraskans to avoid the “Three Cs" and to use other tools to slow the spread of the virus, such as wearing masks, social distancing, and staying home when sick.

Ann and Steve Schrader of Omaha joined the Governor to share their family's experience with the illness.  After getting the virus, Steve spent 19 days on a ventilator before his health improved.

The Governor also recognized November 8-14, 2020 as Nurse Practitioner Week in Nebraska, and he presented a ceremonial proclamation to Nebraska Nurse Practitioner President Tara Whitmire.  Tara highlighted the excellent work being done by the 2,300 nurse practitioners in Nebraska to care for patients during the pandemic.

Gov. Ricketts: Hospital Data & “Three Cs" Reminder

  • Everything we have been doing has been to protect our hospital system to make sure people get the care they need.
  • We are entering a very serious chapter in the pandemic.
  • Six weeks ago, we had 200 coronavirus-related hospitalizations in Nebraska.  This week, hospitalizations stand at 885, and they are rising every day.
  • So far, we have been able to provide hospital beds, ICU beds, and ventilators to anyone who needs care.  If trends continue, Nebraska will reach a point where that's no longer possible.
  • To flatten the hospitalization curve, we need every Nebraskan to stay committed to good health habits.
  • We're urging all Nebraskans to avoid the “Three Cs":
    • Crowded Places
      • Avoid gathering in groups where you can't maintain six-feet distance from others.
    • Close Contacts
      • Wear a mask or maintain six-feet distance when you're with people you don't live with.
    • Confined Spaces
      • Avoid enclosed spaces with poor ventilation. 

Ann & Steve Schrader: Coronavirus Survivor Testimonial

  • Steve:
    • I probably came into contact with the virus while traveling in late February and early March.
    • In mid-March, I started to feel like I was having allergies.
    • I'm asthmatic, and I began having congestion in my chest.  The congestion wouldn't go away, even after taking prescribed steroids.
    • On April 4th, I had walked from the bedroom to the kitchen and was out of breath.  We went to urgent care, and they told us to rush to the ER at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
    • Ann dropped me off, and she wasn't able to come in with me.
    • I was at UNMC for 4-5 hours when I lost consciousness.  I was put on a ventilator.
  • Ann:
    • When UNMC called to tell me that Steve had tested positive for coronavirus, I was shocked.
    • Steve and I talked one more time before he was placed on a ventilator.
    • At that time, I didn't realize how bad his health was.  I certainly didn't know that he would spend the next 19 days on the ventilator.
    • Since I was exposed to the virus while living with my husband, I was quarantined.
    • A week into his hospitalization, Steve kept getting worse.
    • Doctors described his lungs as being like concrete, and they told me there was a very high likelihood he would not survive.  That was on Easter weekend, and they were preparing me to come into the hospital to be with Steve as he took his last breaths.
    • By the grace of God, and thanks to prayers and the excellence of medical staff, Steve gradually improved.
    • He was taken off of the ventilator, though he was still positive for the virus.  He was positive for coronavirus for 34 to 35 days.
    • Thirty-seven days after going to the hospital, Steve was taken to Madonna, and I could finally see him in-person.
  • Steve:
    • I was at Madonna for two weeks before being able to go home.
    • While on the ventilator at UNMC, I had afib (atrial fibrillation).  I had never had any heart issues up to that point.
    • I became diabetic during that period of time.  I also experienced bad tremors, and lots of neurological issues in my feet, legs, and arms.  Those symptoms have gotten better as my strength has improved.
    • When you're lying in bed for 37 days, you lose a lot of muscle strength, too. 
    • Today, the diabetes is under control with diet and exercise.  I thought the afib would go away, but doctors ended up putting a pacemaker in me. 
    • There's also a lot of mental stress from the experience.  We're still learning what the long-term issues of coronavirus are.
  • Ann:
    • The virus is like Russian roulette.  People who get it don't know whether they'll have slight symptoms, no symptoms, or end up on a ventilator like Steve did.  The virus is very serious.  It's nothing to take lightly.

Tara Whitmire: Nurse Practitioner Week

  • There are approximately 2,300 nurse practitioners in Nebraska.
  • I have practiced as a nurse practitioner (NP) for over 13 years.  It is a humbling and rewarding career.
  • Nurse practitioners are working tirelessly to diagnose and treat patients with the coronavirus.  They are also combating community spread while grieving health care colleagues, family, and friends who have lost their lives during this pandemic.
  • NPs provide high-quality primary, acute, and specialty health care services while focusing on health promotion, disease prevention, health education and counseling, and guiding patients to make smarter health and lifestyle choices every day.
  • NPs work to expand access to care in underserved communities.
  • We realize the mental and physical impact the virus is having on all health care professionals.  We appreciate the tireless hours that advanced practice nurses, registered nurses, physicians, respiratory therapists, nursing assistants, pharmacists, hospital staff, and environmental services have put in to take care of Nebraskans.
  • We encourage all Nebraskans to wear a mask, physically distance, wash your hands, avoid the “Three Cs," and stay home when sick.

Gov. Ricketts: Holiday Reminder

  • With Thanksgiving only a couple of weeks away, Nebraskans are making plans for the holidays.
  • As our public health teams do contact tracing, they're discovering that many cases of the virus come from private gatherings.
  • I encourage Nebraskans to avoid the “Three Cs" even when at home.
  • When weather permits, get together with friends and family outdoors when you're gathering and keep your gatherings small.
  • When shopping for turkey and cranberries, go alone to the store and wear a mask.
  • Remember to wash your hands often.
  • And stay home when you're sick.
  • All of this will help protect people who are at risk from the virus.

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


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