Sorry we are a little late on this one, but as we were going back over our notes from last Friday’s presser for a separate article, we realized a recap from last Friday was needed because it was … a lot. Off we go.
- As always, Ricketts started off with a plea to sign up for Test Nebraska, and also mentioned a “waitlist” because you may not be able to get a slot right away. Is there actually a waitlist? Can someone let us know?
- Ricketts is asking long term care facilities how they are going to manage this pandemic. This is both months too late, and putting the onus on the wrong people. Shouldn’t the health department or UNMC or really any experts be providing a plan for the long term care facilities to follow? Shouldn’t this have been done two months ago?
- Becky Wisell with DHHS let us know they have developed a planning tool to “help with developing a plan”, which is a step in the right direction, but again, months too late. Included in this tool is how to request PPE from the state, and it will be sent to all facilities “in the near future” (months too late).
- When asked if the moratorium on evictions would continue past May 31, Pete said “stay tuned”. (Spoiler alert: in yesterday’s press conference Pete said that moratorium will be lifted and evictions will commence June 1 because two thirds of unemployment claims have now been processed and everyone (except that remaining third, I guess) is getting that $600/week and he “doesn’t want anybody getting too far behind on rent”. I don’t even know where to start with everything that is wrong with this. (Dead Kennedys wrote a song about it.)
- Health departments must confirm a person’s place of employment before giving numbers of COVID positive cases for any particular employer. Pete Ricketts keeps repeating this absolute fantasy that people who are testing positive are for some reason lying about where they work. You know what they say about people who insist others are lying all the time.
- Ricketts was asked what he is doing about the Life Care Center in Elkhorn which as of last Friday had almost 70 cases, and of course he asked Becky to come up and answer that question. She refused to speak about any specific facility but gave a vague answer about case investigations, contact tracing, and proactive visits (insert side-eye emoji here).
- If you are concerned about placing a family member at any long term care facility in the midst of this pandemic, Ricketts recommends calling the facility to ask them if they have any cases. I’m sure they will be forthcoming about those numbers.
- Ricketts again mentioned asking long term care facilities to submit to him their plans for how they plan to manage the crisis.
- When asked if his loosening of restrictions followed UNMC guidelines, Ricketts said that *two months ago* Ricketts worked with UNMC docs to come up with the “10 person rule” to avoid overloading the hospital system, but never once mentioned what the UNMC docs *current* recommendations are for loosening restrictions.
- Ricketts refuses to make wearing a mask law for servers at restaurants because he doesn’t want a server whose mask “slips off” to get served with a misdemeanor ticket. Don’t ask me in what reality this would possibly happen, it only makes sense in the alternate reality between Ricketts’s ears. (Note that Ricketts himself is never seen wearing a mask, and never recommends the general public do so even though wearing a mask is one of the easiest and most effective ways to stop the spread of the virus.)
- When asked how workers are supposed to make informed decisions if employers do not tell them if someone tested positive, he went off on a tangent about contact tracing. Keep in mind, that contact tracing only entails reaching out to the people who have had *contact* with the person who tested positive. Not all workers will be informed, and according to Ricketts not even the employer themselves will be informed.
- The Life Care Center in Elkhorn was brought up yet again, this time to question whether the facility should be evacuated. Of course Ricketts passed this question off to Becky, who gave more vague, general answers about investigating complaints and working with health departments and said if there is an investigation, she can’t tell us until it is over. Not once during this presser did either Peter or Becky address the horrifying situation at the Life Care Center directly.
- A reporter brought up that nationwide, deaths in long term care facilities are double the rate of other deaths, but here in Nebraska, deaths in long term care facilities make up 70% of all deaths due to COVID. Ricketts first said that this is because folks in long term care facilities are older and have underlying conditions, then he said the article the reporter was referencing probably had inaccurate information. (Dr. Anthone himself said long term care deaths accounted for 70% of all COVID-related deaths in Nebraska at Ricketts’s press conference just two days earlier.)
- When asked when the state was going to turn over the lethal injection documents as ruled by the Nebraska Supreme Court, he threw a tantrum about that question not having anything to do with COVID and said they would “follow the ruling”.
- If you want to travel for Memorial Weekend, Ricketts suggests celebrating with your household, staying home, and not going to New York or New Jersey because of their “high numbers”.
- Despite having the highest rate of illness and death, staff and residents at long term care facilities are only being tested if they have symptoms. Martha Stoddard with the Omaha World Herald pointed out that Test Nebraska is testing all health care workers whether they are symptomatic or not (supposedly – we still don’t know who they are actually testing) and asked why they wouldn’t also test all long term care residents and staff. Dr. Anthone said a test is just a “point in time” and that someone could test negative today and positive tomorrow so it would be “useless” to test everyone. He also said “we are not just randomly testing health care workers”. (So which one is it? Are they testing all health care workers or not?) Dr. Anthone went on to say “all life is precious” but “old folks dying is good statistics”.
- When asked why the state is not putting out information on which long term care facilities are affected so families who have loved ones in long term care can be informed, Ricketts said families who “need to know” are getting the right information.
- Are all families with loved ones in the facility being informed, or just the families of those who test positive? Dr. Anthone said “some” facilities are telling all families.
That’s it for last Friday’s shitshow. We will do our best to get more recaps up as we can. If you have the time and constitution to watch these daily pressers and help us recap, please reach out to us at SeeingRedNE@protonmail.com . The more eyes we have on Ricketts the better!