NEWS 6.28.21: Nebraska Ends C19 Emergency, Potential Evictions, and More

Jun 28, 2021

Credit Facebook/Gov. Pete Ricketts

Governor Pete Ricketts has ended the COVID-19 State of Emergency in Nebraska.

The State of Emergency started on March 13th of last year. A majority of orders will expire at the end of the month.

During a news conference Monday morning Ricketts says currently only 27 are hospitalized in the state and it is time to return to normal after the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Ricketts says Test Nebraska will end on July 31st with the final day for free testing available for July 18th.

He urged people to get vaccinated to reduce the spread of COVID-19. He says there is no way to stop a virus and mitigation efforts were put in place to reduce the number of hospitalizations.

He also expects children will be back in classrooms without masks this fall.

Nebraska health officials are continuing to work to persuade residents of rural parts of the state, where coronavirus vaccination rates remain low, to get their shots. The Omaha World-Herald reports that vaccination rates in the state’s rural counties tend to lag far behind the rates in the state’s urban counties. Only about 40% of the adults in rural parts of Nebraska are fully vaccinated compared with more than 60% of those living in the state’s metropolitan areas.

As part of the effort to reach rural areas. state health officials plan to participate in a forum hosted by the Center for Rural Affairs on Tuesday. 

The Iowa Department of Public Health reports 67 hospitalizations statewide with a dozen patients on ventilators.

There were 43 new cases. In one week, there were a seven new cases in Woodbury County. The 14-day test positivity rate is 1%, half the state level of 2%.

The expiration of a federal ban on evictions at the end of July raises concerns that thousands of Nebraska residents who are behind on their rent could be evicted.

Nebraska has dedicated $200 million from the coronavirus aid package Congress passed in December to helping people pay outstanding rent and utility bills. An attorney with Legal Aid of Nebraska, says the number of evictions is expected to jump after the moratorium ends, but it’s not clear by how much.

The rental assistance may stall some evictions if families can receive the aid quickly. 

A 20-year-old northwest Iowa man accused of hiding in the backseat a Nebraska woman's car and using zip ties, duct tape and homemade chloroform to abduct her has pleaded not guilty to charges in the case. The Sioux City Journal reports that Zack Smith, of Bronson, entered the pleas Monday to third-degree kidnapping, false imprisonment and assault with intent to commit sexual abuse. His bond has been set at $250,000. Sioux City police say the woman was reported missing June 3 the morning after her car was found abandoned with her purse and cellphone inside. Police say the woman managed to escape from a storage shed on Smith's property while police were searching for her.

The former South Sioux City assistant football and basketball coach facing two separate cases of sexually assaulting teen girls is pleading not guilty to a second set of charges.

Siouxland News CBS 14/Fox 44 reports 25-year-old Nathan Rogers pleaded not guilty in a written arraignment to several charges including sexual assault of a child in the first degree.

A pretrial hearing date has been scheduled for July 27th.

Rogers has already pleaded not guilty to the first set of charges against him.

He remains in the Dakota County Jail on a $1.5 million dollar bond.

South Dakota’s first medical marijuana dispensary is set to open in Flandreau. The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe says it will begin selling cannabis Thursday, the day medical marijuana becomes legal in South Dakota. The Sioux Falls Argus Leader reports that the tribe is already accepting applications for medical marijuana ID cards. The tribe’s program is independent of South Dakota’s new law and the system that the South Dakota Department of Health has until October to launch. The state is also awaiting a court decision on whether recreational marijuana will become legal after its approval by voters in November.