Gov. Ricketts won’t allow mask mandate, will impose new social-distancing mandates if trends continue in Nebraska

Nebraska News

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska will see tighter coronavirus restrictions in less than two weeks if the number of infected people getting hospitalized continues to increase at its current rate, based on new state benchmarks.

Friday morning during a press conference, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts says he will impose new social-distancing mandates on bars, restaurants and other places where people gather if the number of hospitalized virus patients rises to 25% of the state’s overall hospital bed capacity.

Some local health departments have asked permission to impose mask mandates, but Ricketts doubled down on his promise to never impose a statewide mandate.

“So again, I’m against mask mandates, so the state isn’t going to approve that for local public health directors or local public health districts to do that. My position on this has been very clear going through the pandemic going back to last spring,” said Ricketts.

As of Thursday night, the state’s hospitals held 905 virus patients – about 20% of their current capacity. The number of patients has been growing by about 25 per day, and if that trend continues, Nebraska’s hospitals would reach the 25% benchmark in about 11 days.

Ricketts said that it’s up to Nebraskans to prevent a state-wide shut down similar to the beginning of the pandemic.

“We want to remind people that again, you got to follow these restrictions so that we can slow the spread of the virus to preserve our hospital capacity, and we’re using the hospital capacity as the guideline for future restrictions, as I mentioned yesterday, that we will need to take additional restrictions if we don’t see a slowing in the spread of the virus or a slowing in hospitalizations,” said Ricketts.

You can see a chart of public spaces and hospital bed capacity comparisons.

Watch a replay of the press conference below.

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