LINCOLN, Neb. - The pandemic is over, at least from the standpoint of the Nebraska state government.
Gov. Pete Ricketts announced during his latest, and last, COVID-19 press conference that he had signed an executive order that had suspended previous executive orders made during the pandemic.
The governor also said the Department of Labor is ending the $300 federal COVID-19 benefit, citing the low percentage of unemployed Nebraskans.
The withdrawal from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program is effective June 19. Nebraskans who filed for jobless benefits last week will receive the extra $300. Ricketts said he was ending the program because of the state’s low unemployment rate.
Ricketts launched the “Reconnect Nebraska” initiative, urging Nebraskans to reconnect with people and activities they had given up during the pandemic.
Since March 6, 2020, when the state recorded its first case of COVID-19, “Nebraskans did what they always do: The take care of their neighbors. They do the right thing,” Ricketts said. “Now it’s time to return to normalcy. Let’s start reconnecting with things that made us ‘The Good Life,'" Ricketts said.
As of Monday, Ricketts said, the state had 73 hospitalizations for COVID-19. Ricketts credited that to the high number of vaccinations in the state. He said 53% of eligible residents were fully recovered, and over 60%, or 975, 000 eligible Nebraskans, had received at least one shot. He thanked health providers, nonprofits, community leaders “whose unwavering work got us to where we are today.”
Ricketts, however, reiterated his strong opposition to a “vaccine passport,” saying Nebraskans who choose not to get vaccinated “should not be shamed.” He also encouraged businesses to relax their mask policies.