Legislature Approves Relief Package And Is Signed Into Law As COVID-19 Cases Rise In Nebraska

Legislature Approves Relief Package And Is Signed Into Law As COVID-19 Cases Rise In Nebraska

Officials say two more COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Nebraska, bringing the state total to 68.

The announcement Wednesday night follows the Legislature’s approval of an $83.6 million emergency relief package to help public health officials respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I am grateful to State Senators for coming together to approve the emergency funding,” said Gov. Ricketts.  “Nebraskans across the state have united in the battle against this virus.  From Local Health Departments to frontline healthcare workers to volunteer organizations, winning the war will require a team effort from everyone.  I also urge each and every Nebraskan to take direct action to support their neighbors and local businesses as we confront this public health emergency together.”

Gov. Pete Ricketts signed the bill that will provide money for additional medical and cleaning supplies, tests and overtime for state health care workers.

“I appreciate Governor Ricketts’ leadership in seeking the support necessary for our state to address COVID-19,” said Ted Carter, president of the University of Nebraska system.

“Our world-leading health care professionals at UNMC and across the state are working around the clock to keep Nebraskans safe, and the additional funding will significantly aid their efforts.  I thank members of the Legislature for moving quickly to make this critical investment in the health and safety of the people of Nebraska.”

“We at UNMC are very appreciative to Gov. Ricketts and to our state lawmakers for this emergency funding,” said UNMC Chancellor Dr. Jeffrey P. Gold.

“It goes without saying it will be put to the best possible use.  Increased testing helps Nebraska get a better picture of the spread of this disease to improve our preparedness and response—including whether individual health care workers are to stay at home or are safe to return to the frontlines.  These funds will also help our state coordinate response and reuse precious personal protective equipment, thanks to a UNMC research innovation.  This is why we are here.  The university academic health center is proud to stand with the Governor and Legislature in this historic fight.”

In addition to approving emergency funding, Gov. Ricketts issued an executive order to prevent evictions of Nebraskans significantly impacted by COVID-19.  The order prevents the eviction of renters unable to pay rent due on or after March 13th because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Governor indicated that the relief is intended for those who have become ill, lost income due to job loss or wage reductions, or missed work to care for a loved one (e.g., a child who cannot attend school or a sick family member) due to the pandemic. 

At the same time, he called on tenants to work to fulfill their contractual obligations.  The executive order does not cancel any rent payments; it simply defers a landlord’s right to a trial in an eviction action—for unpaid rent—until May 31, 2020. 

The governor also added Lancaster, Dodge and Saunders counties to the list of places where restaurants and bars will have to close their dining rooms because of the health risks.