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For many of us, the COVID-19 situation is the first experience of its kind in our lifetimes. Yet I am reminded there are many in our communities who survived historic, catastrophic worldwide events in years gone by. We can follow their example – and get through this even stronger.
I commend all those who are working on the front lines to keep medical facilities running at a high level, and the supply chain of goods flowing as needed. From shelf stockers to medical specialists, everyone is vital in this effort, and we appreciate the work they do more than ever.
Since the news changes so rapidly, I will simply go over some of the general issues that the Legislature and local governments are addressing. Besides strict adherence to health and hygiene precautions, there are many things we can be doing to mitigate the consequences of COVID-19.
The most important directive is to stay at home if at all possible! If we all abide by the restrictions and nothing happens, that is the best outcome we could ask for.
First, let me encourage you to support your fellow community members and small local businesses in safe and healthy ways. Please call ahead before visiting any government office or organization, to confirm their office hours and changes in operations. Our local news outlets are publishing lists of restaurants who have drive-through facilities or make deliveries. The local chambers of commerce are posting new procedures that local businesses have put in place.
These changes vividly demonstrate that there are many services and industries that must continue, and ‘working from home’ is just not an option. At the same time, many people are affected by job slow downs and layoffs, although some companies are actually hiring additional workers due to excess demand, such as Walmart. The Department of Labor is an excellent source of information for the latest announcements about financial aid and relief sources. Again, the news here changes rapidly and I encourage you to access their website for the newest details. www.dol.nebraska.gov.
Another excellent source of information is the Department of Health and Human Services. You can access their page at www.dhhs.ne.gov. If you have questions about taxes or filing deadlines, go to www.revenue.nebraska.gov. For educational updates, your local school district is the best authority.
I really want to encourage you – if you need help of any kind – ask for it! Whether it be with health, finances or the uncertainty of everything happening, there are services available. In Nebraska, a primary resource is the Rural Response Hotline at 800-464-0258. Another good number to call is 211. Assistance is available 24/7 by phone or text all across the state, with the most up-to-date information about the virus and available community resources.
As far as the Legislature, we had a conference call with the Governor late Friday afternoon. The Governor updated the senators on the need for some emergency funding for issues the state is experiencing with the COVID-19 needs. They have asked for $58.6 million in funding for various agencies from public health to the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. The legislature will meet Monday, March 23 and also the following Tuesday and Wednesday to address this funding request. Speaker Scheer said that we would reconvene the session at a later date when the COVID-19 issue has settled down.
Remember my office always remains “open” around the clock – just leave a phone message or send an email. These are being monitored by my staff and I, and we will respond. 402-471-2620 firstname.lastname@example.org