Governor Pete Ricketts was in Scottsbluff Tuesday afternoon to thank Panhandle Public Health District and other health professionals for their tireless work during the pandemic.
Ricketts spoke to approximately two dozen socially distanced employees over the noon hour at 16th Empire. He touched upon the six pillars to getting through these times- including testing, contact tracing, and directed health measures- and what work still needs to be done.
Currently, The Panhandle’s 11 counties remain in Phase 3 of the Directed Health Measures. The Governor says with area schools starting up in just about a week’s time, there’s little chance that we advance to Phase 4 or revert to Phase 2 of the DHM’s.
“Let’s give that a couple weeks and see where things go and make a decision at that point,” says Ricketts. “So we’ll go from the middle of August to the end of the August, so most likely the Panhandle will stay in Phase 3 through August 31st. But if Kim (Engel) and I have discussions and decide to change it, we can change it. But I think the safest bet is to assume Panhandle Public Health will be in Phase 3 until August 31st.”
The Governor also said he has no plans on issuing a mandatory mask mandate for Nebraskans, but implored health officials on how to work with the public to get them to have that voluntary compliance.
“We have to start thinking about how do we teach people to manage this virus for the long term,” added Ricketts. “How do we make sure, for example, that the public is carrying a mask in their pocket because that’s what everybody does?”
Ricketts thanked all of the local health professionals for the work that they’ve done- and the work that is still yet to be done- as Nebraska works to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases in the state.