The shitshow continues with more lies, and, even more alarmingly, the truth.
- As of today, 152,000 people have signed up for Test Nebraska. Test Nebraska has done 350,000 assessments, which means everyone who signed up has had to try two or three times to even have their information assessed to see if they can possibly get an appointment to be tested. As of today, only 25,141 people have been able to secure appointments. Of those appointments, 18,412 test results have been returned, with 596 people testing positive. Dr. Anthone said this rate is about 3%, but I did the math and it is actually 2.4%. Supposedly only high risk and symptomatic people are being tested, so this rate seems … low, to say the least.
- Yesterday Test Nebraska completed 1694 tests, which is a little over half of the 3000 tests per day which the company promised to be delivering within five weeks from their start date of April 21. For those keeping track (I think we’re the only ones), that five weeks was up this Tuesday May 26. Ricketts defended this by saying “like any start-up business we are finding things to work on” and “it’s still really good”. Okay, so, first of all, this is not a fucking start-up business. This is a health crisis, and the $27 million he paid these incompetent assholes should have gone to the health departments in Nebraska that are doing the work and doing it correctly, with tests that are reliable. The people of Nebraska never signed on to pay with their lives to help some fucking douchebag tech bros get their “start-up business” off the fucking ground. Also, imagine only doing half the work you were hired to do, doing it badly, and telling your boss “it’s still really good”. Are you going to keep that job? Or are you going to get your incompetent ass fired? I guess it all depends on if you are a white man.
- But I digress
- Just as I stated in my recap from yesterday, Ricketts did indeed already sign a no-bid contract with an out of state, hell, out of country, business to handle the $10 billion that he doesn’t trust state workers to handle. The company is called Deloitte and Touche and if you can tell exactly what they do by their painful to look at website, you are smarter than I am. How are we supposed to trust $10 billion to people who can’t even put together a legible website?
- Next up we had Greg Ibach who is the Undersecretary of Marketing and Regulatory Programs for the USDA. Does anyone else find it weird that the guy in charge of marketing is also in charge of regulatory programs, or is it just me? Greg said some gross shit about how the “dip in slaughter” was “hard on the industry”. He then went on to say that (presumably) all meatpacking facilities now have established protocols for masking and social distancing “where applicable” and that epidemiologists have told him community spread of COVID in the facilities is now “virtually nil”. Okay, we all know this is a straight up lie, right?
- Next came Nebraska Tourism Commission Executive Director John Ricks who, to his credit, did not seem stoked to be there to talk about tourism in Nebraska at a time when everyone *should* be staying in their homes by order of the Governor. Instead, Ricketts had him talk about how great Nebraska tourism is and even tried to joke around with him which, again to his credit, he absolutely was not having. Thank you, John, for being the one actual human to hold space on this daily shitshow (besides Francis. Thank you, Francis!). He mentioned the “slow march to feeling safe enough to hit the road” which is true and real and accurate.
- CVS is apparently starting drive thru, “self-swab” testing
- Long term care data: 478 residents have tested positive, 356 staff members have tested positive, and 107 facilities have been affected. There are now 87 validated deaths of long term care residents, with 3 deaths not yet validated. Long term care deaths now make up 55% of all COVID deaths in Nebraska. Nobody brought up the fact that 13 people have died at a small facility in Aurora, Nebraska alone.
- Of the 1500 unemployment claims that were flagged for fraud, 12 are still pending, and *27* of them were confirmed fraud. Twenty seven fraudulent claims out of the tens of thousands of claims submitted. Was it really worth making thousands of Nebraskans starve for two months?
- CHI said that starting tomorrow they will be able to process 3000 tests per day. Ricketts was again asked when Test Nebraska would be able to honor the contract they signed and do their 3000 tests per day. Ricketts again went to his fallback answer of “people need to sign up” even though according to Ricketts himself over 150,000 people HAVE signed up and the majority of those have not been able to get tested. There are only four Test Nebraska test sites set up at any given time in the entire state, and those sites are only available for a few hours a day. If you did not get an email from Test Nebraska with a time slot to get tested, you cannot get tested.
- Anthone and Ricketts were unable to give the number of symptomatic people who have been tested or how many of those symptomatic people tested positive. They were able to say that 106 people have had multiple tests.
- When asked about a possible resurgence (though I’m not sure why we are talking about a resurgence when we haven’t even flattened the curve and our numbers continue to increase daily – in fact, Douglas County had their largest single day increase in positive cases to date just *yesterday*), Ricketts replied that there are “a lot of unknowns” and “that idea is just looking at historical precedents”. Last week he said he hadn’t seen any data to support a resurgence. He said testing and tracing as well as isolating and quarantining is how we will stay on top of the surge, but Nebraska is currently doing NONE OF THESE THINGS in the quantities it would take to get a handle on this pandemic. We aren’t testing enough people, we don’t have enough contact tracers, nobody is isolating (except the people dying alone in long term care facilities) and certainly nobody is quarantining.
- Dr. Anthone said that the hospitalization rate in Douglas County increased by 21 from Tuesday to Wednesday but that the hospitalization rate went down over the weekend prior to that, as if it mattered. Also, that doesn’t even appear to be true, as this article states there are 170 people hospitalized with COVID in Douglas County yesterday compared to 150 who were hospitalized last Friday. Anthone also said the number of people on ventilators has decreased but again this article states there were 51 patients on ventilators yesterday compared to 41 last Friday. Dr. Anthone is either lying or not paying attention to what is actually happening in our hospitals. Either way, he should not be leading this charge.
- Meatpacking facility numbers: 2985 confirmed positives, 138 hospitalizations, and 11 deaths.
- Greg Ibach was asked how he could read those numbers and say with a straight face that meat packing facilities are a safe place to work (I may have paraphrased that question a bit) and Ibach again said epidemiologists looked at the facilities and said with the masks and the face shields, the risk of community spread is very low. He said the increase in numbers is because they are one of the heaviest tested populations and then went on to say that we don’t ask how many grocery store workers are testing positive, which I think we actually should do, especially with the number of unmasked slackjaws screaming about their freedoms and heavy breathing all over grocery store workers. The increase in testing absolutely does not explain away the vast numbers of meatpacking workers who have taken ill and died.
- Tr*mp’s Executive Order to keep meatpacking plants open came up, and Ibach actually confirmed that the whole point of that Executive Order was to not only make sure meatpacking facilities stayed open, but to make sure the families of the workers who died from COVID while working in unsafe conditions would not be able to sue the facilities. He said “as long as they are following federal guidelines, it is not a local concern”. I would love to see him say that to the face of the loved ones of one of the 11 workers in Nebraska who died because they were forced to continue working in a facility crawling with COVID just so the Governor can have a steak whenever he wants it.
- Deloitte and Touche, the out of state company that Ricketts hired to disburse the $10 billion in federal money, will receive $5 million of that money that should rightfully go into the pockets of Nebraskans.
That’s all I’ve got. Starting next week. Ricketts will only be doing pressers twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays, which is probably good for my mental health, but terrible for the people of Nebraska.