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Don Walton: Bryan Health personnel ask for our help
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Don Walton: Bryan Health personnel ask for our help

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COVID-19 testing

A Bryan Health worker collects a test sample at the drive-through COVID-19 testing site at Bryan LifePointe earlier this year.

Powerful message on Twitter from Bryan Health.

Carefully delivered by health care personnel.

"We care for you.

"But, as COVID-19 cases and deaths are mounting, we're asking you to care for us.

"Our teams are physically and emotionally strained.

"You know what to do to stop further spread.

"Do it for yourself, your family — and for us."

No direct mention of the M-word, the word that has become so oddly toxic, combative, divisive and political for so many people.

Just wear a mask. How hard is that?

It will save lives. Does that not matter?

To be really effective at a time when COVID-19 is surging across the country, including in Nebraska — in Lincoln, Omaha, in small towns and rural areas across the state — we can help protect each other's lives, as well as our own, if we do that simple little thing.

Just like we do by putting on a seat belt and stopping at stop signs and adhering to speed limits, all of which are restrictions on our freedom that we recognize as important and accept because they save lives.

"Everybody's got to do it," Dr. Anthony Fauci, our leader in this battle, said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."

With help on its way from a vaccine that may begin to become available in mid-to-late-December, he said, "there's no excuse not to do it now; we've got to hang together."

And then comes the next hurdle, Fauci said: "We've got to get people to take the vaccine. That's the next challenge."

Meanwhile, Nebraska Medicine in Omaha continues to increasingly push for "stronger public health measures" on its Twitter feed.

* * *

It would be foolish and foolhardy to take an early look at the 2021 Legislature with so many balls in the air.

So, let's do it.

Basics: 32 Republicans; 17 Democrats; nonpartisan Legislature; Republican governor dealing with his final collection of state senators during the final two years of his governorship.

Unexpected surplus of state revenue on hand providing an opportunity to invest in and construct a stronger university, swiftly fund and implement expanded Medicaid coverage for the working poor, speed up reaction to ongoing corrections institution challenges, build the state's future.

In the private sector, that's called investment; in government, it's labeled as spending.

You probably can safely bet that the bulk of that money will be shoved right out the door, essentially rejected, largely allocated to property tax relief.

Return to sender.

That's a political judgment that the Legislature is elected to make.

Redistricting will be the shiny new object, a fascinating exercise that shows up every 10 years, paraded in the spotlight, but essentially resolved in the shadows behind closed doors largely located outside the Capitol with the Republican Party and GOP officeholders starring as off-stage performers.

Gov. Dave Heineman played a decisive, perhaps even commanding, role in 2011; will Gov. Pete Ricketts in 2021?

Nebraskans missed an opportunity this year to reform that process and distance it from partisan and party control by turning the initial redistricting task over to a nine-member citizens commission, which would recommend new district maps to the Legislature for its approval.

Supporters of a proposed constitutional amendment to accomplish that change shelved a petition drive to place the issue on the November ballot as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Opportunity missed.

Some interesting new faces will show up in this new Legislature.

Mike Flood will be back, returning to a familiar battleground filled with largely unfamiliar faces. Flood led the Legislature as its Speaker before he was removed by term limits.

He'll be a leader; the only question is in what role at the beginning.

There is one more fundamental change ahead: No Ernie.

And that raises a question: With the term-limited removal of Sen. Ernie Chambers, will this coming session really be official?

* * *

Finishing up:

* It's a long way to Jan. 20 and who knows what's coming in the next 66 days. Buckle up.

* A Husker win — and they do look better.

* A peek ahead to 2021: Huskers play Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin at home and Oklahoma at Norman. Plus Illinois in Ireland.

Ricketts seeks additional food stamp aid as virus surges in Nebraska
Ricketts ties new restrictions to additional COVID-19 hospitalizations
Don Walton: Fortenberry flexes GOP muscle in Republican state

Photos: The scene in Lincoln with much of city shut down

Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or dwalton@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSdon

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