Back at it again. Wednesday was mostly a big snooze fest about how nearly all of the federal pandemic money is going to businesses and very very little is going to actually help the people, though one very important thing did get snuck in there regarding Don Bacon’s bill to reroute the money meant for unemployed Nebraskans so you will want to read on for that. Nobody asked for the Test Nebraska numbers today. Or at least nobody in the room did. What number are we supposed to text our questions to? Here’s the stuff I stayed awake for:
- Statewide: 44% of hospital beds are available, 43% of ICU beds are available, and 77% of ventilators are available.
- Ricketts said the “main show” today will be talking about COVID money. I took screenshots of all his powerpoint stuff but here is all you really need to know: most of those federal dollars are going directly to businesses instead of to the people of Nebraska. Also, Ricketts is hiring an “outside” firm to tell him how to spend that money. I’m sure this will all turn out just fine.
- Ricketts pointed out several times that this money is not intended to “replace revenue” and must be used for COVID-related issues only, otherwise we will have to pay it back.
- Oh, except for the $427 million which is supposed to go to the thousands of Nebraskans who are unemployed right now. That money has NOT gone into the unemployment fund, and Ricketts is ending the $600/week stipend for struggling unemployed folks. Ricketts’s new BFF Don Bacon is introducing a bill that, if approved, would allow Ricketts to use that money to “replace revenue” (the one thing it is specifically NOT supposed to be used for) instead. Let me repeat that: Don Bacon and Pete Ricketts are attempting to funnel off the one tiny portion of the COVID relief money that is explicitly supposed to go directly to Nebraskans.
- Don’t worry though, some of the other money is going to be used to hire “coaches” to retrain unemployed people so they can get a better job. Sounds legit and not at all like some sort of fly by night college scam.
- Ricketts felt the need to point out that when he says “preserving the health care system” that specifically means you can get a hospital bed or ventilator if you need it. So don’t worry if you have to lie facedown all alone in a hospital bed being pumped full of painkillers with a tube down your throat for four weeks while your family lives with crushing anxiety miles away from you – Ricketts and Anthone have just the spot for you. If you’re lucky, Dr. Anthone’s own son who isn’t even an ICU nurse may be the one to take care of you!
- When asked if he had visited the Life Care Center in Elkhorn, Ricketts replied that he hadn’t, because they are encouraging people not to visit long term care facilities. He has said that a lot since his own Lieutenant Governor Mike Foley posted a picture of his family all cuddled up for a photo opp with his wife’s elderly parents.
- Kansas has required that people who visited the Lake of the Ozarks over the holiday weekend quarantine themselves for two weeks, and Ricketts was asked if Nebraskans should do the same. Ricketts replied that if Nebraskans who visited the Lake of the Ozarks “felt like they were exposed to somebody”, they should quarantine for two weeks. So …. ok.
- A Douglas County official has requested more testing, to which Ricketts replied they should sign up for Test Nebraska. Also Ricketts is “continuing to look for other ways to expand testing” which he has been saying for a couple weeks now with absolutely zero concrete examples. Ricketts bragged about how they have done twice as many tests in May alone as they did in all of March and April, but was anyone even getting tested in March? Also do the tests even count if testing day is just an episode of Punk’d?
- Ricketts announced that courthouses across Nebraska that are not open for walk-in traffic will not be receiving any of the federal COVID money. I am not sure what happens for walk-in traffic at courthouses that couldn’t be done online. Little help here? What is the reasoning? Is this the eviction thing?
- There will be no legislative oversight on how these federal dollars will be spent by Ricketts and the outside firm he is hiring.
- Several Senators have written to Ricketts asking that part of the CARES money go to help childcare providers. Ricketts brought up his powerpoint again and pointed out where those childcare providers could “apply” for “grants”. I must point out again that so far the only thing Ricketts has confirmed he has spent CARES money on is for advertising for Test Nebraska.
- Martha Stoddard at the Omaha World Herald asked Ricketts why he was hiring an outside firm to disburse the funds and why the state couldn’t just take care of that themselves. Ricketts replied that the “state teammates” were busy with their “day jobs” and that it would be way too overwhelming for them anyway because the state’s annual budget is only $5 billion, and the feds gave us $10 billion. Did we mention Ricketts hates state workers?
- When asked how Ricketts is selecting this outside firm to handle Nebraska’s money, we got no answer at all. Some vague reference to someone writing a note saying how they will spend the money and promising to do it right. Of course we all know Ricketts has already signed a no-bid contract with a group of incompetent wealth-hoarding white men somewhere so let’s all be pretend shocked together when he breaks the news.
- Ricketts does not think another round of stimulus payments for the people is necessary because our kids and grandkids will have to pay it back. He inexplicably brings up Don Bacon‘s plan to steal money meant for unemployed Nebraskans again, as if this isn’t exactly the opposite of a thing that is helpful for Nebraskans. Oh, and he kept referring to it as the “unemployment trust fund” as if unemployed people are the ones waiting for their billionaire daddies to kick off instead of him.
- Ricketts was asked if the state was doing anything to help the Winnebago tribe, and Ricketts replied they are a sovereign nation who has their own “pot of money” and a “testing machine” (singular) from the federal government so they are totally fine.
- Martha Stoddard asked about nursing home deaths, so Ricketts called his ghoulish little Igor Dr. Anthone up to answer. Anthone started off by saying “we have talked about this several times already” as if his whole damn job isn’t to talk about it anytime he is asked. He then stated 74 “confirmed, validated” nursing home deaths and 15 that were not confirmed or validated. Last week he couldn’t figure out how not to say that old people dying is “good statistics”, so he just went ahead and said it. Martha pointed out that the rate of folks in the general population dying was now increasing, and asked if that was a bad thing since old people dying was a good thing. Anthone said every life is precious and every death is a tragedy, and completely ignored her question.
Tonight is Ricketts’s last scheduled town hall on NET.