Pandemic Pete Ricketts Is Making Us Sick

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Picture taken by a bartender in Bellevue on election night. She was subsequently fired for taking this picture.

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts’ incompetence and fealty to Donald Trump has led Nebraska to the brink of disaster. According to the White House Corona Virus task force: “The COVID-19 spread in Nebraska is exponential and unyielding, with hospitalizations increasing week over week and reported limited bed availability. “

We got into this mess because Ricketts ceased listening to the experts and began to follow the lead of Trump and his political donors. On June 22, the billionaire governor fully re-opened the bars at the behest of the influential bar and restaurant industry. On that date, there were 147 new corona virus cases in Nebraska.

Ricketts compounded this blunder by lifting all pandemic related restrictions on September 10. The billionaire governor told us it was time to “get back to normal.” On that date, Nebraska had 456 new cases.

Since Ricketts lifted all of the pandemic related restrictions, the number of cases in Nebraska have soared like a rocket. Here are the relevant numbers.

November 16: 3,440 new COVID -19 cases.

November 17: Nebraska had 735 new cases per 100,000 population, compared to a national average of 294 per 100,000.

Nebraska is number five in the country in terms of new daily COVID-19 cases per capita, behind North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Montana.

Adjusted for population, Nebraska has the third most people hospitalized.

Nebraska’s percent positive rate is 14.2%, approximately three times higher than what is deemed safe. Positivity has been rising for the past two consecutive weeks.

The University of Washington has indicated that Nebraska is now the 6th riskiest state to visit.

This massive outbreak has brought our school system and health care system to the brink of collapse. The current trends simply aren’t sustainable.

According to a recent article in the Lincoln Journal Star: “Bryan Health, CHI Health, Methodist Health and Nebraska Medicine all saying last week that virus patients were occupying 25% or more of their available rooms…COVID patients are taking up about 29% of the beds available at the state’s larger acute-care hospitals…Great Plains Medical Center in North Platte said in a news release last week that COVID-19 patients were taking up 39% of its beds.”

Due to Ricketts’ ineptitude, most hospitals in Lincoln and Omaha are now rationing care. (Remember how the GOP used to falsely accuse President Obama of wanting to ration care?) Elective surgeries have now been substantially curtailed in the state’s two largest metropolitan areas.

Last week, the billionaire governor announced some toothless measures and said he won’t act unless things get worse. Unfortunately, things are getting much worse — at a rapid pace. Ricketts’ voluntary compliance plan is an utter failure.

Ricketts must do the following ASAP:

1. A mask mandate.

2. Limit bars/restaurants to take out only.

3. Provide a rescue package for bar/restaurant owners/workers.

The time for half measures and wishful thinking is long over. Ricketts must act NOW!

Requiring people to wear a mask and temporarily limiting restaurants/bars to take out is a small sacrifice compared to what we’ve asked of previous generations. In WWII, most consumer goods were rationed and young men were required to storm entrenched beaches.

How would the current generation of Tea Party and Trump whiners have responded to Pearl Harbor? We would probably now be speaking German and Japanese if those losers had been in charge instead of the Greatest Generation.

We only have to put up with this very small sacrifice for a few more months. Most of the population will be vaccinated by the spring of 2021. In contrast, millions of Americans endured much greater sacrifices for nearly 4 years during WWII. We can do this. We are Americans!

I’m a trial lawyer, a Democratic activist and a sports fan.

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