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COVID-19 daily pressers Fuck Pete Ricketts

Ricketts Press Conference: Recap 5/13

The Governor started today by explaining why it’s totally expected that we would have a delay in getting any test results from TestNebraska to our public health departments:

  • Whenever we bring on a new lab, we need to integrate it into our system. As of 5/13, it’s integrated and now, 3 weeks after signing the deal, state health directors can see TestNebraska results.
  • We have also fixed the call center issues. The calls have moved from an in-state team to a team in Utah affiliated with the tech bros. Here is a question the press should have asked: How much extra is it costing Nebraska taxpayers to have our calls answered by the team in Utah?

Nebraska has received its share of the Remdecivir from the federal government. In some twisted 2020 joke, this drug is made by Gilead Sciences. We have enough doses for 50 people.

The first lady shared information on some non-profits who are helping people with food security. She also praised her husband for doing a great job. She failed to mention that these food banks would not be necessary if her husband’s policies didn’t make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

It wouldn’t be a press conference about the state’s response to COVID-19 without a couple of proclamations. The governor signed them and had representatives of skilled nurses and poll workers collect them, without any PPE. Honestly, the lack of modeling appropriate behavior at these things is odd.

Now for the Q&A:

  • The rules for bars still apply. Unless you have a food license it’s takeout only. This includes the strip club in Omaha.
  • Why are some test results taking a week or more to come back? Ricketts said the goal is 48 -72 hours. It used to be 48, but the TestNebraska guys said 72 was more realistic. If it takes longer, “there are a number of reasons it could be delayed.” We are still reading that people have been waiting over a week for their results.
  • There are 6 mobile testing sites (though not all are open), each with a capacity of 500 per day (when they get ramped up). They are scheduling only 3 or 4 days out. They will not stay until all who have been promised a test in an area are complete. If you don’t get one, you have to wait until they come back. TestNebraska is not tracking how many people were told to schedule and could not get scheduled.
  • Ricketts was asked about incarcerated persons twice. We are still not testing any inmates because there are currently no people in the prison system displaying any symptoms, according to the governor. Despite the fact that several workers are positive for COVID-19, we are “treating inmates just like any other citizen” and they are only getting tested for symptoms. The individual within the system who did test positive in Omaha was tested as a part of a totally unrelated medical issue. Apparently we are to believe it’s serendipity that someone needing another medical procedure is the only person living in the corrections system with the disease.
  • We are also not releasing any non-violent offenders early because of fears of the disease. “We have a process for releasing inmates and it’s called parole,” says the governor.
  • He also said that there is no reason to test incarcerated persons en masse because “testing is just a point in time and there is nothing stopping someone who tests negative today from testing positive tomorrow.”
  • The state has a plan for COVID in the prisons and it is doing everything “exactly appropriately.” The media did not ask where one might obtain a copy of this plan.

Peter was asked about an epidemiologist who has said we are not following CDC guidelines and that we are opening too soon. Peter replied that:

  • This plan is right for Nebraska
  • We have flattened the curve (I don’t know how he and Anthone can continue saying with a straight face that the curve has been flattened when our numbers continue to rise every day, but okay)
  • Hospitals are not overwhelmed, and if you need a ventilator you can get one. (So they are not trying AT ALL to make sure people don’t get sick. They are just (supposedly) making sure sick folks have a hospital bed and a ventilator. Incidentally we read this morning that due to nurses being severely underpaid for years, there is a shortage of ICU nurses. Special training is required for using the ventilators, which only ICU nurses have. So it doesn’t matter if we have enough vents because we don’t have enough ICU nurses who are trained to use them)

Iowa expressed concern that results of tests for IA residents tested as a part of a mass test at a food processing facility were not reported in a timely fashion. When asked why NE didn’t report IA resident’s cases that were tested in NE when testing was done in Dakota City:

  • This was private testing
  • Only a partial download on 5/4
  • Available to be shared with IA on 5/8
  • Shared on 5/11
  • “It was the process.”

The Omaha Tribe blocking access to Macy is fine as long as they stay off the highway.

73 deaths of residents in long term care facilities. These are all residents and no staff members. The number of deaths on the 12th was 62, so 11 long term care residents died in a single day.

When asked if asymptomatic people were being tested, Peter said they “could be”, which is not an answer.

Questions about the accuracy of the TestNebraska tests visibly flustered Peter.

  • The non-TestNebraska tests have a 12-15% positivity rate. TestNebraska is 3%. Differences are only because of the population being tested.
  • 3,575 tests from TestNebraska – 1,278 on 5/12. 121 positives. (You might remember TestNebraska promises 3,000 daily) Dr. Anthone doesn’t have the TestNebraska numbers – only Kay Orr’s grandson can pull them up. They will be integrated into dashboard 5/13.
  • There is a procedure to validate the TestNebraska tests but it’s unknown whether any of that validation has yet been done.

When asked about the scathing editorial in GI newspaper, the answers were a litany of excuses:

  • We have only been at this a week and a half,
  • We “rushed” to get this out,
  • We aren’t letting the perfect by the enemy of the good,
  • We don’t collect provider information for anyone,
  • The data streams are now integrated,
  • The editorial was premature.

It’s important to note that many of the problems are magically solved as soon as a criticism becomes public and ugly.

There you have it. We will tune in today so you don’t have to!