Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts announced on April 20, that elective surgeries can resume starting May 4. This will be the first COVID-19 health measure lifted for Nebraska.
This announcement came as a response to President Trump’s “Opening Up America Again,” a three-phase guideline to reopening parts of the country amid the pandemic. Resuming elective surgeries is part of Phase One.
Hospitals need to meet specific standards before performing elective surgeries. Hospitals must have at least 30 percent of general beds still available, 30 percent of its Intensive Care Unit beds available and 30 percent of its ventilators available. The site of the surgery must also have two weeks of personal protective equipment available, Ricketts said during his daily COVID-19 update on April 19. Procedural guidelines for resuming elective surgeries will be at the discretion of individual hospitals and health clinics. This order also applies to dental and veterinary services.
Along with resuming elective surgeries, Ricketts announced a push for the expansion of COVID-19 testing for the state. Producing and providing readily available COVID-19 tests for the public and healthcare providers is another key component for Phase One of Trump’s “Opening Up America Again.”
There are currently 1,722 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Nebraska and 38 deaths, according to the state health department. Increasing testing materials and distribution of supplies is in response to the state health department issuing a new Health Alert Network Advisory on April 3 about testing patients for COVID-19. It calls for health care providers to test all in-patients for COVID-19. The advisory also allocates more testing supplies for the following people:
Health care workers
Public safety and first responders
Residents and staff of nursing homes and assisted living centers
Residents and staff of group homes, homeless shelters and daycares
People over 65 with preexisting health conditions
Along with providing more testing supplies, this expansion will allow health care providers more choice about who to test for COVID-19. A shortage of COVID-19 testing supplies has been a recurring problem for both Nebraska and the United States.