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Fortenberry calls for on-site rapid COVID-19 testing
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Fortenberry calls for on-site rapid COVID-19 testing

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U.S. Representative Jeff Fortenberry listens as President Donald Trump speaks at Eppley Airfield in Omaha on Tuesday. President Trump spoke as part of a Make America Great Again! campaign rally.

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry said Wednesday that the United States needs to develop on-site rapid testing for the COVID-19 virus as part of an ongoing pandemic relief and economic recovery package.

"We're not out of the woods yet, but there are reasons to be optimistic" with the approach of a vaccine, the 1st District congressman said.

"We could turn the corner on a vaccine quickly," he said. 

Fortenberry addressed the annual gathering of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce and Nebraska Chamber of Commerce with members of Nebraska's congressional delegation that normally takes place at the Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum at Ashland.

Bolz tests positive for coronavirus after quarantining

This year's gathering is being conducted virtually over a three-day period with interactive exchanges on Zoom.

Gov. Pete Ricketts addressed the opening session Tuesday.

Answering questions, Fortenberry said he supports additional COVID relief that would include extension of the paycheck protection program and he is open to a proposal for additional direct relief for families economically impacted by the pandemic.

Fortenberry said action may also be needed to protect the nation's health care infrastructure.

Watch Now: Fortenberry, Bolz address immigration, other key issues

Asked about election security, the Republican congressman said this year's heavy reliance on mail-in voting raises "reasonable concern (and) creates some uncertainty," although he believes there is "no worry in Nebraska."

"Nebraska ballots are safe," Fortenberry said.

In some areas of the country, the practice of so-called "ballot harvesting," in which a person may collect the ballots filled out by a number of voters with the promise of delivering all of those ballots to election sites, raises the prospect of "potential manipulation," the congressman said.

Fortenberry said U.S. voters also face the challenges of "foreign interference" leading up to Tuesday's election conducted through "disinformation campaigns."

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Photos: Lincoln during the pandemic

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

On Twitter @LJSdon

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