This week the Legislature moved very quickly to pass an emergency funding measure of around $86 million. This will allow the state to respond to the unprecedented demands of the COVID-19 virus on a number of levels. The two main targets of funding are health and the economy.
I encourage everyone to keep taking all the recommended precautions! If you have any medical questions, please go to the Department of Health website: dhhs.ne.gov. The Nebraska COVID-19 Information Line is (402) 552-6645. It is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. CST – every day. State agencies are sharing information using the #NECOVID19 Hashtag. DHHS has produced COVID-19 Public Service Announcements which are available in English and En Español.
While many normal activities have been disrupted, we still need to look ahead. The deadline for requesting an absentee ballot or early ballot for the May primary election is just a few weeks away, I would strongly encourage everyone to apply to vote by mail. In Gage County, you may have received an application form in the mail. In Lancaster County, you must get the form from the election commission. Here’s the link: https://www.lancaster.ne.gov/331/EarlyAbsentee-Ballot
Unfortunately, there are always those who look to take advantage of others in a crisis situation. State Attorney General Doug Peterson urges caution, and wants consumers to be aware that fraudulent scams often occur during such times. You can contact that office online (email: firstname.lastname@example.org) or file complaints through the state website: https://protectthegoodlife.nebraska.gov
Another service that might be needed is legal advice. Nebraska Free Legal Answers is a website where individuals can ask civil legal questions which are answered by Nebraskan attorneys for free. This is a resource designed for low-income Nebraskans, but it is also appropriate for people who are facing hardships due to COVID-19 and cannot afford an attorney https://ne.freelegalanswers.org/
Several state divisions are working on ways to ease the hit to our economy. The Small Business Administration has details on emergency loans. Eligibility for Economic Injury Disaster Loans is based on the financial impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The interest rate is 3.75 percent for small businesses. The interest rate for private non-profit organizations is 2.75 percent.
The SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years and are available to entities without the financial ability to offset the adverse impact without hardship.
Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.
Small business site: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance
Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email email@example.com for more information on SBA disaster assistance.
Individuals who are deaf or hard‑of‑hearing may call (800) 877-8339. Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155. The deadline to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan is Dec. 21, 2020.
The Department of Economic Development is working to inform and assist businesses during Nebraska’s ongoing response to COVID-19. Information for businesses is available on the DED website. DED is committed to serving Nebraskans facing financial challenges during this time, and understands that local economic leaders will play an important role in creating regional solutions for businesses and their workforce. The department’s Field Services Team is working with business leaders in these regions to address ongoing COVID challenges. https://opportunity.nebraska.gov/nded-covid19/
The National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) is working with the National Business Emergency Operations Center (NBEOC) to assist the interagency crisis action task force. NAIFA’s consumer site provides individuals and businesses with information to avoid scams, tips on who to contact regarding health claims/questions, as well as how to find licensed, knowledgeable, ethical professionals to assist with financial security planning. https://security.naifa.org/covid-19
There is no question this is a stressful time, but help is available. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Disaster Distress Talk with a counselor, a doctor, or a clergy member anytime of the day or week. Help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Interpreters are available as well.
Hotline: 1-800-985-5990 Messaging: text TalkWithUs to 66746. More information: https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/disaster-distress-helpline
Boys Town National Hotline
The Boys Town National Hotline is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and is staffed by specially trained Boys Town counselors. This is a great resource for parents/caregivers and families.
Hotline: 1-800-448-3000. Email for speech- and hearing-impaired: firstname.lastname@example.org. More information:https://www.boystown.org/hotline/Pages/default.aspx
The Nebraska Family Helpline
A great resource for families concerned about a youth experiencing mental or behavioral health issues. Assistance is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Helpline: 1-888-866-8660 More information:http://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/Nebraska-Family-Helpline.aspx
Nearly every state agency has information on their website. You can find links to these agencies by going to Nebraska.gov. For some specific tips, keep reading.
The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy’s Wastewater Division would like to remind people that sanitizing wipes, baby wipes and even “flushable” wipes are not flushable — regardless of what the product states. Flushed wipes cause sewer system blockages, resulting in overflows from manholes and basement backups. This can lead to expensive repairs and damage to your municipal systems or homes. Please throw sanitizing wipes in the trash.
Department of Labor
Unemployment Insurance Information https://dol.nebraska.gov/PressRelease/Details/141
Unemployment claims should be filed online at NEworks.nebraska.gov or on the free NEworks mobile app. For more information visit: Short-Time Compensation FAQ https://dol.nebraska.gov/stc
Department of Motor Vehicles
The DMV has generated a series of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) documents to assist customers with how the Governor’s recent executive order may impact them.
A virtual visitor system to keep veterans’ home members and their families connected while the facilities are limiting entry has been launched by the Nebraska Department of Veterans’ Affairs (NDVA). Access to the four state veterans’ homes is currently limited to NDVA teammates and medical professionals only, as a precaution against COVID-19 exposure.
The Lancaster County Veteran’s Service Center is closed to the public. The office is open but no longer accepting walk-ins for claims assistance and other in-person services. Veterans with claims specific or other questions may request information via email at email@example.com or by telephone at 402-441-7361. Veterans can continue to get information about benefits by visiting. https://www.lancaster.ne.gov/484/Veterans-Service-Center
Game and Parks
Nebraska Game and Parks’ public buildings are temporarily closed to public walk-in traffic until further notice.
All events and activities are cancelled through May 31 or until further notice.
State parks and recreation areas grounds remain open for day-use, fishing and recreation.
Park permits, fishing permits, and hunting permits should be purchased in advance online at http://outdoornebraska.gov/.
In a proactive state and national effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the health of its customers and staff, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is closing viewing blinds to public access. The commission aims to protect its staff and customers by removing opportunities for crowds to gather at facilities and events and by maintaining clean areas that are available to the public.
Enjoying the crane migration is available by using several driving routes from North Platte to Hershey. Buffalo Bill Ranch State Recreation Area has a scenic drive-through where cranes can be seen flying across the North Platte River and feeding in the adjacent meadows. Early mornings and late evenings, you can watch the cranes fly over the North Platte River at Cody Park in North Platte. The North Platte/Lincoln County Visitors Bureau has a self-guided Sandhill crane driving route brochure, which is available from their office located at 101 Halligan Dr. or online at https://visitnorthplatte.com/outdoor-recreation/
Blood drives are NOT covered by orders restricting travel or public gatherings of more than 10 people and are considered an “essential activity,” as outlined by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Eligible and healthy donors are strongly urged to make an appointment at redcrossblood.org to provide lifesaving blood products to patients.
County and city offices have a wide variety of adjustments to their programming right now. Remember to call ahead, or check websites.
A map of courthouse open/closures is available here: https://nacone.org/pdfs/COVID-19/COVID%20-%2019%20Map.pdf
The Beatrice Area Chamber has a dedicated page of information at http://www.beatricechamber.com/covid-19-resources
Main Street Beatrice also has information available on their site at https://www.mainstreetbeatrice.org/
Once again I want to remind you that my office is open 24/7 thanks to technology. Leave a message or send an email at any time, and we will respond as we are able. firstname.lastname@example.org 402-471-2620 Stay safe and well!