Ricketts extends directed health measures through Dec. 31

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Hospitalization and coronavirus cases have declined week over week, a first decline of its kind since July. But will it continue?

On Monday, Gov. Pete Ricketts encouraged Nebraskans to continue practicing the healthy habits during his weekly address.

"Is this a blip or because of the holiday weekend? It's too soon to know at this point, that's why we encourage Nebraskans to please practice all the good tools to slow the spread," he said. "While hospitalizations are down we need to continue to be able to slow the spread of the virus for our hospital capacity."

This week, Ricketts said 28 percent of hospital beds are available, 24 percent of ICU beds are available and 66 percent of ventilators are available. There are 869 coronavirus hospitalizations in the state.

"To put that in context, Oct. 1 we had 227," he said. "We have seen a decrease in the number of hospitalizations over the course of the last week or so but we want people to remember to help us slow this down so we don't overwhelm our hospital system."

Ricketts said another way to help stop the spread of coronavirus is by getting tested, and get tested through Test Nebraska especially if people traveled over Thanksgiving.

Ricketts renewed the current directed health measures (DHMs) through Dec. 31.

The DHMs that will remain in effect include:

Elective procedures/surgeries

• In order to continue elective procedures, hospitals must maintain at least 10% of their staffed general and ICU beds as reserve capacity to treat COVID-19 patients.

• Hospitals must continue to accept and treat COVID-19 patients and must not transfer COVID-19 patients to create capacity for elective procedures.

Bars and restaurants

• Patrons will be required to be seated while on premise unless they are placing an order, using the restroom or playing games.

• 100% of rate occupancy continues.

• Maximum of eight individuals in a party. Groups larger than eight will need to split into multiple tables.

Gatherings

• Indoor gatherings will be limited to 50% of rate occupancy (not to exceed 10,000)

• Outdoor gatherings will remain at 100% of rated occupancy (not to exceed 10,000)

• Gatherings include but are not limited to indoor or outdoor arenas, indoor or outdoor auctions, stadiums, tracks, fairgrounds, festivals, zoos, auditoriums, large event conference rooms, meeting halls, indoor theaters, libraries, swimming pools or any other confined indoor or outdoor space.

• Groups shall be no larger than eight individuals.

• Plans for reopening or expanding to new capacity limits must be submitted to the local health departments and approved for all indoor and outdoor locations/venues that hold 500 or more individuals before reopening is permitted.

Wedding and funeral reception venues

•Maximum of eight individuals in a party. Groups larger than eight will need to split into multiple tables.

• 100% of rated occupancy continues.

• Limited dances or other social events requiring guests to gather outside of their respective tables in guidance.

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