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Ricketts urges new round of federal COVID-19 assistance
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Ricketts urges new round of federal COVID-19 assistance

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Virus Outbreak Nebraska

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts speaks during a news conference in Lincoln on June 25 to update Nebraska's response to the coronavirus. 

Gov. Pete Ricketts said Monday he would like to see Congress approve another round of federal assistance to help Nebraska and other states navigate through the ongoing COVID-19 economic crisis.

Congress has been wrestling with partisan differences over a new package of relief assistance for businesses, the unemployed, schools, health care providers and other segments of the economy that are still struggling as assistance from the CARES Act draws to a close.

"I would certainly encourage Congress to take up targeted programs that would help us get through the next few months," Ricketts said in answer to a question at a morning news conference.

Targeted assistance in the current CARES Act has been "very successful," the Republican governor said.

Centering on COVID-19 issues at the first of three news conferences he has scheduled this week, the governor said he's signed an executive order that will extend a waiver of Nebraska licensure requirements for doctors and nurses from other states who come here to help during the pandemic emergency.

A recent decline of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state may be an indication that Nebraskans are being more cautious and "not going out as much," Ricketts said, and he is "hopeful we will see a slowdown in the number of fatalities as well."

The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Nebraska dropped to 768 as of Sunday evening, far short of 25% of the state's 4,003 staffed hospital beds, which is the trigger point Ricketts has established for heightened restrictions in the state.

The COVID-19 death toll in Nebraska, however, climbed past 1,200 on Sunday.

With the Christmas holiday season approaching, Ricketts said, "now is the time to be extra cautious."

Asked once again whether he would consider issuing a mask mandate, the governor said he continues to urge Nebraskans to wear masks "where it's appropriate and when it's appropriate."

Group to seek legalization of recreational marijuana in Nebraska

Ricketts has asked Nebraskans to wear masks when they go to the grocery store and when they are in close contact or in crowded conditions. 

Meanwhile, more Nebraska communities are adding mask mandates, with a vote in Holdrege set for Monday evening.

Don Walton: 2021 Legislature will need to decide how to proceed

SCENE IN LINCOLN

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

On Twitter @LJSdon

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