As hospitalization decline, Gov. Ricketts looks at loosening restrictions

More COVID-19 restrictions in Nebraska could be loosened as the number of hospitalizations statewide have declined.

During a Monday morning coronavirus update, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts said that COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state are at the lowest rate they've been since October. Ricketts said the state is on track to lessen restrictions in a few days.

The state was reporting 582 COVID-19 hospitalizations as of Monday morning — the fourth day the state has seen such hospitalizations below 15%, the governor said. Across Nebraska, he said, 36% of hospital beds were available; 41% of ICU beds were available; and 74% of ventilators were available.

The governor again encouraged Nebraskans to get tested ahead of the holidays, noting that he was tested again on Sunday and had received his results today.

Also on Monday, Dr. Kevin Reichmuth, a pulmonologist who has received the vaccination, walked through the make-up of the vaccine. He then dispelled myths circulating online about the virus and the vaccine while answering some “frequently asked questions.”

Reichsmuth, who is also a colonel in the Nebraska National Guard, spoke as part of an effort to correct inaccurate claims about the new vaccines, including statements that the drugs cause infertility, contain a microchip, and trigger genetic changes in people who get the shot. “Please don’t choose not to get this vaccination just because of something you see on Facebook or Twitter,” he said.

With the approval of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, Ricketts said the state expects to receive about 32,000 doses of it this week. Meanwhile, the state will save back more than 23,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine that are expected to arrive this week and next week in order to begin the pharmacy program, which is still expected to begin vaccinations at long-term care facilities.

More than 8,700 Nebraskans have received the first of their COVID-19 vaccinations since the state received its initial allotments of the Pfizer vaccine, the governor said.

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