HASTINGS – Governor Pete Ricketts announced at a press conference yesterday morning that all pandemic-era executive orders will end on June 1. While also issuing a new executive order that prohibits masks from being mandated in State of Nebraska office buildings. Under the same order, individuals who had been working remotely because of the pandemic will return to in-person work. The DHM that required quarantining also ended last night.
The Governor said that currently in the state there are only 73 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus, which is the lowest since they started tracking that data last April. There was an average of 60 new coronavirus cases in Nebraska per day last week. For comparison, Nebraska averaged nearly 2,300 per day in late November.
He also announced that Nebraska will no longer participate in federal pandemic unemployment programs effective June 19. The State has notified the US Department of Labor of its intent to withdraw from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, which provides an additional $300 weekly payment to all recipients of state or federal unemployment benefits, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which provides benefits for those who would not usually qualify, such as the self-employed and gig workers, the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which provides for an extension of benefits once regular benefits have been exhausted, and the Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation, which provides an additional $100 benefit to certain people with earnings from both self-employment and wages.
Notwithstanding the termination, the Continued Assistance Act and American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 created additional benefit eligibility for some workers. People should continue to file weekly claims at NEworks.nebraska.gov to receive all benefits for which they are eligible, or file a new claim if they have not yet applied. All claims for federal benefits covering weeks of unemployment through June 19 will continue to be processed but the last payable week under each program may vary. Nebraska will continue to pay regular unemployment claims for those who qualify.
The Governor and First Lady Susanne Shore also launched an initiative to “Reconnect Nebraska” with relationships, activities, and service opportunities as the pandemic ends and life returns to normal. They were joined by Nebraska Tourism Commission Executive Director John Ricks who encouraged Nebraskans to get out and enjoy the events happening across Nebraska this summer.
First Lady Susanne Shore announced the launch of “Nebraska Reflects,” an online platform where Nebraskans can honor those who stepped up to serve others during the pandemic. Nebraskans can go to NEimpact.org/reflects to pay tribute to the people whose leadership, encouragement, and support made a difference as the state dealt with the virus. The First Lady also asked Nebraskans to look for ways to volunteer their time and talents to strengthen their communities. Volunteer opportunities with around 150 organizations are posted online at NEvolunteers.com.
Nebraska Tourism Commission Executive Director John Ricks invited Nebraskans to take part in the 2021 Nebraska Passport Program. It kicked off on May 1 and runs through the end of September. This year, participants can get their passport stamped at 70 stops throughout the state. Stamped passports can then be submitted for prizes. To order a passport and learn more about this year’s program, go to NebraskaPassport.com.