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tv   Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts Holds Coronavirus Briefing  CSPAN  December 11, 2020 10:18pm-11:04pm EST

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346,000 doses twice. thank you very much. with coronavirus cases increasing across the country, use our website, to follow the trends, track the spread with interactive maps, and watch updates on demand any time at getsbraska governor peter held a briefing on the vaccine distribution plan within his day and he says he will loosen restrictions soon if numbers continue to decline. he also talked about nebraska joining the texas lawsuit challenging the presidential election. >> good morning, everyone.
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thank you for joining us with regard to the states response to the pandemic. we appreciate you joining us. we have a guest here in a moment. the ceo of great plain health in north platte. before that, i just want to remind people that with the pandemic, we need people to continue to practice all of the good tools we have given you regarding the six foot distance between you and other people. washing your hands often 20 , seconds at a time, that kills the virus. wear a mask when you go to the store, work at home if you can and stay at home if you are sick and everyone in your household needs to stay home as well. make sure you are not spreading the virus. go get tested. confirm you don't have coronavirus. if you are sick, please stay home. obviously, it's the holiday season, please go shopping by yourself. don't take the whole family with you. if you are going grocery shopping, go once a week and leave the kids at home.
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go by yourself. these are things we can do to slow the spread of the virus. also avoid confined spaces, , crowded spaces, and close contact. the virus is spread from one person to another, so if you can avoid those, you can slow the spread of the virus as well. that is particularly important when you think about the holiday season. we have holiday parties, it's a good idea to postpone those until sometime later next year or if you are going to have them, have them with smaller groups of people and if you have people together wearing masks, it's helpful to slow the spread of the virus. please remember those things. nobody wants to be sick over the holidays when you may be spending time with your families. nobody wants to be in the hospital, you don't even want to be quarantined, so slow down is the best thing to do to avoid being in quarantine. please remember that.
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also, all of this is to make sure we preserve our hospital capacity. we have 28% of our hospital beds available today. 26% of icu beds and 70% of our ventilators. we see 779 hospitalizations right now and that has been pretty stable for the last week. and that has been stable below our level of 20%. so if we have one more day, today, of being at that level below 20% our seven day , rolling average will have been below 20% and that means we will move from the orange phase to the yellow phase. you may recall about a month ago , november 13, we published our chart. you can see the lines on the chart here. you can see red, orange, yellow, dropping down to blue. and green at the bottom. those represent different increments. red.bove is 25% is orange.
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15% to 20%, we are in that category now, is the yellow. if we continue to stay there, we will be going into that yellow phase to relax some of those restrictions. so that's potential that could be as early as 12:01 tomorrow morning. if it jumps up a bunch, it can change that, but if it stable, -- what if we stay stable we can , go to yellow. even though we are going to yellow, we remind people we still have the virus in the community. you need to practice all the rules we have been talking about with regard to the pandemic and slowing things down. but, if we go into yellow, that will allow for elective surgeries if the hospital can maintain 10% capacity. i know that is an important point as people have deductibles and are trying to get those and of the year surgeries in.
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another way we can slow the viruses -- we can slow the virus is to take advantage of test we've had 576,000 nebraskans sign up. our turnaround time has been 30 hours, so we have been getting those tests turned around quickly. a test and mine took the turnaround time was about 18 hours. we have been turning that around quickly. especially if you are going to see friends and family, a great opportunity to get tested. make sure you don't have it. that's a great way to help slow down the spread of the virus. please sign up and get tested. we are expanding test spots in lincoln. we have a lot of capacity. please look out for that. as we have talked about, all the precautions we have been taking is to slow the spread of the
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virus and preserve hospital capacity so that we can provide that hospital bed to anyone who needed it when they needed it. we have treated it as a strategy , the entire state of nebraska is one big hospital system. we have set up a transfer center to move patients from one hospital to another or even one region to another to make sure we can balance the load about how many covid patients hospitals are taking. one of the great partners has been melnyk nate at great plains. they have been a tremendous partner, willing to step up and be able to help out. you may recall early on in this pandemic, we were looking at increasing hospitalizations in cases in lexington, nebraska -- mel, who is the ceo has worked diligently with us and set up a couple of ambulances and a helicopter to make sure we can transfer
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patients out of lexington if necessary. he's been willing to take patients from long-term care facilities and he's been a tremendous partner. we have seen that cooperation from our hospital systems here but mel has been tremendous. can you get him on there, ryan. i'm saying all these nice things about mel -- can you even hear me? >> good morning. gov. ricketts: before i get done, i've got to recognize you -- you were named rural hospital of the year two years in a row. that's one of only 19 hospitals across the nation and the only hospital in nebraska. congratulations on that designation. >> we are very thankful for the staff. and their dedication. i would like to say thank you for your kind words. we really appreciate it.
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i want to wish everybody good morning and let you know that the spirit of the canteen and effort during world war ii to provide nourishment to all troops traveling through the community from the east to west coast is alive in health care organizations in west central nebraska. this pandemic continues to challenge the way we deliver care as we gain more knowledge and have a better understanding of how it would operate. today i've been asked to share , some of the innovative changes to ensure quality, safe care in that rapidly changing environment. before i do, i want to thank the doctor ford the their leadership in helping organizations like great plains health deal with covid-19. they have been great partners and i appreciate it from the bottom
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of my heart. the organization early on in this pandemic implemented an interdisciplinary team approach to clinical care within the facility. we have timely communication regarding the status of all of our patients and making sure resources are available to our nursing staff. we meet daily on just about every patient in the organization, whether they are covid positive or not. that timely discussion helps us to remove barriers for care and processes and a member of that team is a member of our administrative team trying to do those kinds of follow-ups. early on, our er physician during this last spike identified a type of patient that could use oxygen in their homes and we were able to employ that into the hospital and beds -- and we were able to avoid admission into the hospital when beds were scarce during a period of time.
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we follow up with those patients to make sure they are safe and recovering appropriately. providers at great plains health have participated in a wide variety of trial and research a systemn including that reduces the ventilator use in our organization. we had a team of staff facilitating the giving of monoclonal antibody drugs in the outpatient setting. preliminary results are encouraging. we've seen a decrease in admissions and a reduction in the length of stay. for those patients receiving that medication. staff have engaged with family and patients at different levels, talking about a desired course of care and facilitated end-of-life discussions if there is a need for pallet of care if -- need for palliative care appropriate. leadership has worked closely with critical access partners to manage the volume of patients
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needing treatment and i want to complement those facilities that worked with us. it was a bidirectional flow of patients. i would like to acknowledge the hospitals for their willingness to work with us and set aside barriers to meet the spike in admissions we recently experienced. leadership works collaboratively with nursing homes in our region and we do that all the time but more so and more frequently here lately. we help to establish a covid-19 unit in one of the nursing homes that allows residents in other nursing homes that tested positive to quickly be relocated to this unit and stop the spread units in they other nursing homes. our infectious disease physician has provided consult with providers to ensure safe, quality care throughout the region. as patients recover, the new challenge we are facing is
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referrals to rehab centers for recovery. some of these patients have been in bed or on a ventilator for 25 days. we noticed the need and difficulty referring to rehab facilities, so starting monday, our rehab staff will start initiating processes that occur in rehab facilities upon admission of our patients so we can reduce the need for long-term transfers. those are a few of the things we are working on and i want to thank you for letting me share some of those and some of what is going on as we continue to fight this covid-19 across the state. gov. ricketts: thank you very much. you and your team have done a fantastic job and i'm personally grateful for all the efforts of you and your team to help make sure we are taking care of nebraskans and the flex ability,
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-- and the flexibility innovation, everything you have , done has been impressive. do you have a few minutes to take some questions? if you have time, we can do things a little differently and take some questions if you have the opportunity. do you have time? >> i do. sorry. gov. ricketts: we will change things up a little bit today. we are going to ask if anybody here in the room has questions for mel and if there is anybody who is online and wants to email them in, you can text them to justin. do you have a question? >> not specifically for mel right now. gov. ricketts: andrew? have you heard when you will get the vaccine and how quickly -- gov. ricketts: questions for mel. sorry. andrew is asking what you have heard about receiving vaccines.
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>> when are we distributing the vaccine? i'm sorry, there was a little bit of echo there. but yes, we are hoping we will receive the vaccine the first part of the week. we are working with our partners to make sure we distribute the vaccine quickly and to use every vial that has been given to us. reporter: [inaudible] gov. ricketts: andrew is asking what does it mean to be one day away from moving from orange to yellow and what does that mean for hospitals? >> moving into a different color indicates we are going to be able to perform more elective surgeries. we will still be monitoring our beds closely to make sure we have beds for our acute patients
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because we are also treating individuals with stroke, heart attack, a lot of acute issues that we cover and provide those services too. we monitor that and adjust our surgery accordingly, just not for covid-19 but other critical care we need to provide. gov. ricketts: fred? reporter: [inaudible] gov. ricketts: have you experienced patients with heart conditions staying away from the hospital because of coronavirus? >> we have been tracking our volumes and we have made an approach to ensure people come back into our clinic so that our er is not overrun. we are treating the same volume of patients we were treating back in january and february, so we are starting to see patients come back.
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we have created a lot of opportunity for patient-physician interaction through telehealth and we have a wide telehealth network that allows patients to repeat telehealth. a lot of psychiatrists are doing consults through telehealth. gov. ricketts: did you have another question? reporter: i was just wondering as far as going into orange, has he seen a change in attitude of people and are you worried [inaudible] gov. ricketts: what he is asking is have you seen a change of people's attitude as we have been in orange for almost a month and are you concerned that if you have seen a change and people are being more careful that they may not be as careful now that we are going into yellow? >> i think we have to continue to market and share how we can keep each other safe from
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covid-19. i think our medical staff have -- has been instrumental sharing that message with their patients and i think we need to continue that. i don't think there will be a letdown. hopefully not because there are a lot of factors to this. and people can still get covid-19 if they are not vaccinated or just through normal spread. i'm hoping we see a decrease in covid-19 admissions and continue this trend. gov. ricketts: justin, do you have a question? reporter: [inaudible] gov. ricketts: he would like to know how much have you been able to reduce hospital admissions by using oxygen in the home?
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by administering oxygen in the home? >> we haven't had a chance to really track the data yet. anecdotally, our er physicians are conscientious on who they allowed to use the oxygen at home and we provide the proximity which allows them to measure their levels and our care workers are calling these patients on a routine basis. there have been enough patients that have allowed us to admit critical patients and not have to transfer them. currently, we have received patients from as far away as oklahoma, so we have been able to not only meet the needs of north platte but some of the surrounding states. we have had to transfer patients from north platte early on and in spite of this last spike that occurred, a lot of those patients were transferred to our critical access partners so we
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can maintain a level of this with a higher acuity treating those covid-19 patients. that data should be coming out and i would be happy to share it. gov. ricketts: anybody else? mel, again, i can't tell you how impressed i am with you and your organization. you've done a fantastic job. please tell your team how grateful we are for their long hours taking care of our coronavirus patients as well as the other patients they take care of. you guys have been doing a fantastic job and we very much appreciate it stop we still have -- appreciate it. we still have a lot ahead of us but we are excited now that this vaccine is hopefully going to be coming to us next week and that's the light at the end of the tunnel. we look forward to working with you on the vaccine administration as well. >> thank you. it has been an honor. gov. ricketts: merry christmas.
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just wrapping up here again, our schedule for next week will be monday, wednesday and friday. i'm not wrapping up, i have questions. monday, wednesday, friday and that will be at 10:00 on monday a.m.and because of the wednesday. nebraska state patrol graduation on we will do the friday, press briefing and start earlier on friday to accommodate the schedule. now we will go into broader questions. reporter: about the texas election lawsuit. [indiscernible] there have been criticisms that the lawsuit is without merit. [indiscernible]
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gov. ricketts: so he's asking about the lawsuit where the attorney general signed on with 17 other states to do an amicus brief in regard to that texas lawsuit, making sure states are following their own laws and if you don't follow your own laws in one state, it can impact another state such as this. the key there is two things. one, we are following the separation of powers. for example the legislative , branch and judicial branch don't get to make laws. that's the prerogative of the legislative branch. the executive and judicial don't get to do that. if you are going to change the election law, you have to do it the proper way, which is the legislative branch. that's the basis for the lawsuit is my understanding from texas and how nebraska signed on is brief on that.
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in general, we need to make sure we are avoiding election irregularities. that is something we believe is in the separation of the three branches of government and that is what this is about and we believe it is perfectly appropriate to say if you are not following your own laws, that's a problem. especially when you're talking about a national election. with regard to the counties within a state, that would be dependent on state law. for example if we have areas in , nebraska that have mail-in voting, that was done appropriately through the legislative process to take care of. reporter: do we have any idea when and where the first vaccine will be administered in nebraska? gov. ricketts: when and where will the first vaccines be administered in nebraska? for security purposes, we are not saying which hospitals or when they will be receiving it. i can tell you we are expecting, now that the fda has approved,
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those pfizer shipments next week, they will distribute them to eight hospital systems and they will work with nine other hospital systems to inoculate hospital staff that deal with coronavirus patients and other patients. but keeping the hospital staff and the frontline workers healthy as well as those ems folks dealing with coronavirus patients. >> [inaudible] does nebraska have enough federal funding to roll out vaccines? [inaudible] gov. ricketts: julie anderson is asking whether sufficient -- whether there is sufficient federal money to roll out a vaccine program and i have not heard of anybody who is not going to be able to roll out vaccines because of a lack of money. we at the state are monitoring
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closely what's going on with regard to the stimulus package because that has additional money for states to do the vaccine programs, however we will budget it one way or another to make sure we get the vaccines rolled out, so i don't anticipate that's going to be a problem, at least not here in nebraska. >> she asks are those percentages rounded up or down to a whole number? would we say -- [inaudible] gov. ricketts: with regard to our numbers -- maybe you can put the chart up again. we said 20% is the threshold. they are not rounded. if we are below 20%. we are below 20%. 19.5%, we are below 20%. gov. ricketts: andrew, fred, do
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we have questions here? >> [inaudible] gov. ricketts: what are the other effects? i would refer you to our chart. on the dh h website. extracurricular activities, we have limited that two -- we have limited that to households. that will be broader now. it won't be limited to households. indoor capacity will go from 25% to 50%. that will be expanded. the six feet separation will go m to guidancee dh now. we think it's a good idea to keep that six foot of separation. we had discussions about this as well. if you have a school gymnasium, the school can take steps to limit the number of people in there if they want to be more restrictive, they certainly can do that. any event with more than 500
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people is going to have the director'sc health -- a plan submitted to the public health department and that plan be signed off on. also, in the dhm, that you had to wear masks in a business if you are closer than six feet for more than 15 minutes. that will be specifically for things like salons and so forth. masks in salons, barbershops, etc., all of that stuff goes to guidance now. including for the salons. andrew? reporter: [indiscernible]
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gov. ricketts: the question was about the paycheck protection program where businesses received $3.4 billion here in nebraska, over 40,000 organizations received $3.4 billion. the intent had been for that not to be taxable and the irs came out with a ruling saying it is taxable. my understanding is in the next bill congress is debating, they will make clear that will not be taxable and nebraska will follow that as well. if they clarify it is not taxable, it won't be taxable under state law either. reporter: how much money will the state get if that didn't happen? gov. ricketts: the question was with regard to the state specifically, do we know where
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that provision is? my understanding is that is part of one of the things that will be in the next stimulus package that is going to be rolled out. i can't predict when that would be done and any change that -- we follow the federal tax code, any change to change from that would have to be done in our state tax code. when we were doing our forecasting, we went with the original guidance that those dollars would not be taxable. reporter: the carnegie mellon study you cited [inaudible] they found something like 90.6% of nebraskans wear masks all or most of the time.
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gov. ricketts: fred is asking -- we tweeted out a carnegie mellon survey, self-reported survey of someany people wear masks or all the time if they go out in public and nebraska was about 90%. if you looked at some of the historical data, that number had been going up because we had taken the step to go into the orange phase, so i think people were more aware and wearing masks. i think 90% is a self-reported number but it's roughly the same as wisconsin had been reporting. reporter: [indiscernible] i have to tell you, fred i have been slowing , down, so i have been going from work here in the capital to my house. i have not been going out much. when i have gone out, i have seen at least in omaha, people are wearing masks.
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andrew? reporter: [inaudible] gov. ricketts: when you start the question that way, you know that i know something is up. [laughter] reporter: [indiscernible] gov. ricketts: the question is, i'm a big guy, what would i think if another state challenged our election laws? we are not challenging their laws, we are challenging their process. what we are saying is if you are not following the process of changing your laws through the legislative branch, that is the appropriate, constitutional way to do it. every state has to follow that unless you have a law that allows for something different. you can't just make up laws in the executive branch or traditional branch. this is one of those things we talk about a lot -- judicial activism. you can't legislate from the bench. you have to discourage it from the executive branch.
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can the governor's office do this and the attorney general advises you cannot do that. you don't have the ability to create a new law or whatever. you can waive a statute that may be allows for someone to do something, but you have to act within the laws of the emergency management act as they are written. that's true for nebraska and true for everybody else. if we were acting outside of our prerogatives, i would hope before some other state brings it up that somebody in nebraska would be saying you have to follow the law. reporter: [inaudible] gov. ricketts: andrew is saying -- why is this not just a political move for republicans? i think the separation of powers is a profoundly held belief and -- in this country and it is important to our very republic and the foundation of our country that we follow the rule of law and have the
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separation of powers. that's not a political stunt. that is the foundation of our republic. reporter: [inaudible] i can't talk: about hypotheticals. andrew asked if joe biden had wouldnd trump had won, the attorney general be filing an amicus brief? it would depend on the facts and circumstances at the time, so there's no way to answer that. reporter: [indiscernible] gov. ricketts: [laughter] i just said i can't answer hypothetical questions. reporter: if the supreme court were to take this and say we agree, what do you think the public reaction would be? gov. ricketts: the question is if the supreme court were to take this and the supreme court would agree, what would be the
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public reaction? there would be people who are happy with it and people who are unhappy with it just like every decision that is made. some people will like it and some people won't. reporter: [indiscernible] gov. ricketts: don is asking do i support the goal of the texas lawsuit? what i support is following the rule of law. that if these states did not follow the proper state law, didn't follow the separation of powers, they ought to be held accountable for that. i'm not an attorney, so that's something for the attorneys and the courts to decide and we have a process for this. this is part of the process we have -- aggrieved parties can go to court on this. reporter: with the vaccine so close, why not increase restrictions to save lives over
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the next couple of months. gov. ricketts: nick costello is asking -- we have seen increasing deaths and that is true, with the increasing cases of hospitalizations, why not go to a hard lock down and wait for the vaccine? what we have done is focus on our hospital capacity. it is a virus and you can't stop it from coming. what you can do though is slow the spread enough to preserve your hospital system. that has been our strategy since day one and we will continue to follow that strategy. reporter: is there anything on when the first vaccine shipment will arrive? gov. ricketts: do we have any more specifics when they are going to arrive and for security purposes, we are not going to say specifically when they are going to arrive. we expect them to arrive next week. we are not going to give out specific locations other than to say there are eight hospital systems that will receive them.
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working with nine others. reporter: that would be a total of 17 hospital systems getting access to vaccines. i'm not -- for security purposes, i'm not going to get more specific because we want to make sure anyone who wants to cause a problem does not have the opportunity. reporter: can you give more clarification on the second and third delay? gov. ricketts: the question is have we had any clarification from pfizer on when the second and third shipments would be? to this point, we do not. we were originally supposed to get in the second week, that would be the week after next, we were supposed to get 19,500. we have been told that maybe we would receive some allocation of that but we have not been confirmed how that is going to work out, whether it's some allocation or will be pushed off
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to another time. reporter: [indiscernible] the question was, if the supreme court takes this case, what happens on december 14? i'm not an attorney. that's a question for the court and attorneys to sort out. i don't know what the implication would be. dr. antonia, can you come up please. please remember to repeat the question. reporter: [indiscernible] >> rebecca costello wants to know about the number of cases and the number of deaths currently in our long-term care facilities. this is as of this morning, there are now 3884 residents in
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long-term care facilities that have tested positive. this is through the -- the cumulative for the course of the pandemic. there is now 579 deaths in long-term care facility residents for about a 44% rate over our overall deaths. 44% of our overall deaths are people who have been in long-term care facilities. the number of facilities that have reported cases are up to 496. almost every facility now. reporter: and the staff? >> the staff, i don't have that number but for the last data i have for staff, i will have to get back to you.
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>> i think it is around 2800. >> 2800 staff, i will get you the exact number. reporter: [indiscernible] dr. anthone: andrew asked if we do go down to yellow, what would our message be to the public? the best statement i heard was from dr. hahn from the fda that said we have held down the fort now for almost nine months. now we see the cavalry coming. now is not the time to quit fighting. now is the time to increase the fight knowing that calvary is coming. so my message would be don't give up the three c's. keep up the three c's. know that there is the light at the end of the tunnel coming and let's wait that out.
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one of the things we heard on a call the other day was the month of december, there will be 20 million inoculations for a vaccine. during the month of january, there will be 30 million. during the month of february, there will be 50 million. that's almost one third of the population being vaccinated by the end of february. so this is not the time to give up. this is the time, especially the people that will not be vaccinated to keep as vigilant as possible and like they say, the cavalry is coming. gov. ricketts: thank you. i just want to stress what the doctor said -- even with the vaccine coming and even with us moving from orange to yellow, now is not the time to stop practicing all the good rules we know about -- wearing a mask when you go to the store,
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staying home when you are sick, washing your hands often, keeping that six foot of distance work from home if , you can, shop once a week by yourself. avoid the three c's. even with the light at the end of the tunnel we have to , continue to remain vigilant to slow the spread of the virus. and preserve our hospital capacity. any other questions that came in? reporter: [indiscernible] [laughter] [indiscernible] gov. ricketts: the question was what about going to yellow right before black friday? the shopping season. black friday was the friday after thanksgiving.
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[laughter] anyway, with regard to the retail establishments, the thm impacting businesses with regard to masks when you have close proximity for 15 minutes or more , would not apply to the retail establishments but what i see from retail establishments is that they have been for months now taking steps to spread out customers, putting signs on the floor, putting up plexiglas. their staff is wearing masks. i would encourage nebraskans if you are going to go shopping and you still want to wear a mask, it is the holiday season. that will help slow down the spread of the virus. you don't want to be quarantined, you don't want to be sick and you don't want to be in the hospital. slow down right now so you can avoid any of those things in the
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month of december as we lead up to the holiday season. we started hanukkah last night, sundown last night. so we are in the holiday season right now. >> another question. [indiscernible] gov. ricketts: doesn't it seem contradictory to say don't give up the fight when you are loosening up restrictions and it's not contradictory at all? we are telling people to practice all the tools. we are loosening up restrictions but we still have restrictions in place to stop this is all about managing hospital capacity so it fits in line with our , strategy that we have managed in the pandemic, to base the restrictions on where our hospital capacity is, but it's going to depend on nebraskans practicing the tools we have given them to slow the coronavirus.
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seeing no more questions, i will wish everybody a great weekend and please continue to slow down as we go into the holiday season and we want to slow things down so people don't get sick and can see their families. wash your hands, keep that six foot of distance. and i want to say thanks to all the folks who sent me christmas cards and encouraging notes. i appreciate all the kind words, so thank you for that. finally, we have a big football game tomorrow, so let's cheer the huskers on and that will help us maybe get to a 500 season here. with that, thanks very much and we will be back at 10 a.m. on monday. don't forget about test nebraska -- we have space available, so please come in and get tested. thank you very much and we will see you on monday.
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thank you, appreciate it. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2020] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] some news on the texas election appeal. the washington post reports this week court dismissed an attempt by president trump and the state of texas to overturn election results in four states won by joe biden, blocking the presidents legal path to reverse his loss. it was denied for standing -- for lack of standing under article three of the constitution. you can read the report on our website, at thursday morning, the food and drug administration holds an open meeting to discuss emergency use authorization for the moderna covid vaccine. or
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listen on the free c-span radio app. >> use your mobile devices and go to for the latest video, live and on-demand, to follow the transition of power. president trump, president-elect biden, news conferences, and event coverage, at the minnesota governor says distribution of a coronavirus vaccine in state hospitals could begin in 10 days if the fda approves the first batches to be sent out. health care workers joined the governor and told some of their personal stories of treating people with the virus.


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