Governor Pete Ricketts reduced his daily press conferences to once a week, then decided yesterday to simply cancel with no prior notice or explanation. So we at Seeing Red Nebraska will update you instead.
For starters, COVID cases in areas of Nebraska look like they are starting to surge, and this is particularly alarming because a number of factors are skewing that reported number downward.
As you can see, two of the state’s most densely populated counties had extreme surges in May, followed by a decline. Now on July 5 we are seeing daily totals we haven’t seen since the May surge, and they are arriving about two weeks after the Necrophiliac Caillou we have as a governor re-opened bars. Anyone with two brain cells to rub together knew opening bars was a terrible idea, and it has since been proven so in states run by other MAGAt governors, like Arizona, Texas, and Florida.
People with symptoms are reporting that they are waiting a week or longer for test results to come back. It seems that surges of sick and dying people in other states are making test processing supplies scarce.
So this graph not only does not show you the effects of Fourth of July get-togethers, it also isn’t registering people who came down with symptoms last week or even the prior week and are still waiting for their test results.
Now consider how these results are further muddied by the tech bro grifters behind Test Nebraska who are making money off of shitty science–and who just had their 27-million-dollar contract renewed despite failing to hit any of the measures set in their original contract.
As we have previously reported, there is no reason to believe that TestNebraska is catching even half of positive cases it encounters. Further, we are hearing report after report of symptomatic people who are unable to find a single open slot to be tested–and meanwhile, we have heard from at least three asymptomatic persons with no known contact to anyone with COVID who were contacted by TestNebraska and offered a test spot. Yes, this is all anecdotal, but in the absence of leadership giving us reliable data it is worth noting: many sick Nebraskans are saying they are being refused testing appointments while at least three healthy, low-risk Nebraskans were asked to come in for a test. Who would benefit from refusing tests to sick people and offering them to healthy people? Anybody who has an interest in seeing low positive numbers. Are we wrong? Prove it, Deatheater Peter.
Meanwhile, Ricketts has renewed the contract with TestNebraska, so that taxpayers can sink even more of our money into this useless data-mining tech startup, money from hardworking Nebraskans that could have been used to strengthen our state and county departments of health and human services and improve services overall. How many wasted dollars exactly is unclear – and without a press conference, who could ask? What is clear is that the original TestNebraska contract called for 3,000 tests per day and they were to provide 540,000 tests total. As of this writing, 193,299 Nebraskans total have been tested since March through all testing channels, including those not run by TestNebraska.
As the Lincoln Journal Star printed on Monday: “When state governments began calling for private-sector help in the fight against coronavirus earlier this year, that call was met by a cadre of tech companies from Utah.” Unfortunately, the “help” being provided to the state government from this incompetent private company doesn’t include working with state government agencies to help everyone get a clear picture of testing data. As Dr. Bob Rauner noted in his June 24 update, “our testing is still woefully inadequate in Nebraska because of test turnaround time. Ideally TestNebraska would help us with that, but they won’t listen to us or talk to any of us so we don’t know where we’re going to go, so it means we’re somewhat flying blind.”
Who benefits from this lack of data and lack of transparency? Before cancelling his press conferences, Ricketts announced that if you want to continue to be eligible for unemployment, as of July 12 you need to hit the pavement and start applying for those $9/hr jobs where you can risk your life to serve drinks to unmasked Ricketts voters.
Let’s take a quick look at what working in Nebraska can mean right now. On July 16, Lincoln’s very cozy Zoo Bar is hosting a show by a band called Barnyard Stompers:
Half of the Barnyard Stompers duo is a brilliant scientist named Casey Miller. Kidding–he’s not a scientist; he’s a flaming scrotal cheese COVID denier who just knowingly played an in-person concert while suffering from active, diagnosed COVID, and he thinks that if you die from the disease he gave you, too bad, you were going to die anyway.
So let’s be clear: when Ricketts obscures data, opens bars, and forces unemployed people to try to get back to work in places where people like Casey Miller go, he is quite simply rigging the system so some people will die. Shouldn’t come as a surprise that Ricketts is pushing people into bars like this–after all, if we know one thing about Ricketts, it’s that he really enjoys a cold one. And we don’t mean drinks.