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We’re nearly through April. It has been a long and strange month. Thank you to everyone who has helped us to stay home, stay healthy, and stay connected. Thursday would have been the last day of session in ordinary times. Now we have 17 session days left, but we don’t know when those will occur. The Speaker has said that we will come back when it is safe to do so. He also said that we would not convene within two weeks before the election (May 12), so late May would be the earliest we would meet. I suspect it will be later. Whenever we hear any updates, we will pass those along.
Just a reminder, May 1st is the deadline for requesting a mail-in ballot. I am repeating those instructions again below – my apologies for the duplication, but I want to make sure that everyone knows how to request a mail ballot.
At the Governor’s press conference on Wednesday, the Executive Director of the League of Nebraska Municipalities highlighted several important issues. First, she encouraged strict adherence to the social distancing guidelines at public parks and asked that people only visit parks that are close to home. Secondly, they are noticing that people are still using playground equipment in some municipalities. As of March 30th, play structures are closed to limit the spread of the virus. If you are visiting parks with your children, please avoid playground equipment and any other restricted areas for your safety and theirs. The virus can live on plastic and metal surfaces for several days so it is in our best interest as a community to avoid those areas. Lastly, there has been an uptick in people flushing non-flushable items. Please do not flush baby wipes, moist toilettes or paper towels which back up sewage lines.
We are maintaining a resource page on our blog here. If you have a resource you would like to share, please get in touch with our office at email@example.com or at 402-471-2615.
Prepare Now to Vote by Mail this May
All residents of Sarpy County should have received a white postcard-sized form in the mail last month that has a ballot request. If you received this form, simply sign it, stamp it and put it in the mail. If you do not have this form, Voter Registration Applications and Early Ballot Request Forms may be found here. Ballots will be mailed out in the order requests are received, beginning on April 6. Though the Sarpy County Election Commission is closed to the public, the forms will also be available outside of their (locked) doors at 501 Olson Drive, Suite 4, in Papillion. The ballot drop box at the same address is available for people to turn in their completed forms. Forms must be signed or they will not be counted. Another way to submit your request form is to take a picture of your form and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. I strongly encourage you to request a vote by mail ballot to make our primary elections as safe and healthy as possible.
Governor’s Executive Orders & Announcements
This week Governor Ricketts introduced Test Nebraska, a new three-phase program that will assess, test and track COVID-19 cases in our state. Nebraskans can visit testnebraska.com to complete an online assessment which takes around five minutes.
Governor Ricketts announced the state’s first step to relax health measures implemented to slow the spread of the virus. On May 4th, hospitals may resume elective surgeries. Hospitals and healthcare facilities must meet requirements for available bed capacity and have an adequate PPE supply.
This week the Senate passed its fourth relief package. The package includes $484 billion in funds to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program, support hospitals and expand testing. It also allocates funds to economic injury disaster grant programs for disaster recovery loans. As of Thursday afternoon the House was on track to pass it and the President had shared that he planned to sign it immediately.
Those who currently reside in subsidized housing or have a housing voucher are encouraged to file a Change in Income form, available for download here. Once you have completed your form you can email it to email@example.com or send it by mail to 8214 Armstrong Circle, Bellevue, NE 68147. They can also provide assistance over the phone at 402-734-5448. If you choose to call, they will still send you a change form for a signature which holds you accountable for any changes made. Your status will be updated immediately.
More information about income changes is available here.
Food Pantry through Together Inc.
Mondays through Fridays from 12:00PM – 2:00PM, Together Inc. in Omaha will be hosting a drive through food pantry for Omaha-area residents and those in need. The food pantry is located off of 25th and Leavenworth Street, Omaha, 68108.
Directions: Head east on Leavenworth Street and stay in the right lane. At 25th Street, turn south. There will be a person directing traffic. Please let the Together staff member know the number of people in your household, the number of households you are picking up for and your zip code.The Together building is located at 812 S 24th Street, Omaha 68108. The drive through pantry will be off 25th and Leavenworth Street in the back of this building.
If there are any updates pertaining to drive through hours or operations, they can be found at https://www.facebook.com/TogetherOmaha.
Game and Parks Information
As the weather gets nicer, it is important to comply with the public health safety measures that Nebraska Game and Parks has put in place. Cancellations, postponements and closures are now all listed at OutdoorNebraska.org/healthinfo. They also have a detailed FAQ page here. Though overnight camping is currently prohibited through May 8th (with the possibility of an extension), State Parks and recreation areas continue to be open for day use, fishing and recreation, but they are still encouraging visitors to maintain a six-foot distance from one another and limiting social interaction. Park passes can be purchased online at their website here.
In coordination with the FDA, the Red Cross, along with other blood donation centers, is seeking people who are fully recovered from the new coronavirus to sign up to donate plasma to help current COVID-19 patients. People who have fully recovered from COVID-19 have antibodies in their plasma that can attack the virus. This convalescent plasma is being evaluated as treatment for patients with serious or immediately life-threatening COVID-19 infections, or those judged by a healthcare provider to be at high risk of progression to severe or life-threatening disease. To learn more, visit their website.
Farmers Market Guidance
We are quickly approaching what would usually be a busy season for farmers markets and their vendors. The Nebraska Department of Agriculture has created guidance for farmers markets to help keep vendors and customers healthy and to slow the spread of COVID-19. Guidance and additional information for agriculture producers can be found on NDA’s website.
DHHS Accommodation Program
For Nebraskans working on the front lines that have been exposed to COVID-19 and are in need of a quarantine and/or isolation location outside of the home, accommodations will be available in a dorm room setting and are open to anyone that meets the application criteria. Applications can be completed here. As the need for this program grows across the State, so will the number of locations.
More information on guidelines will be available here under the Nebraska Accommodation Project (NAP) header.
Though much of our state’s workforce has been temporarily sidelined by the COVID-19 crisis, many parents must still report to jobs outside their homes. A number of early childhood organizations and advocates have collaborated to create and launch the Nebraska Child Care Referral Network—a searchable database for parents seeking to connect with available child care resources during the COVID-19 crisis. This website can help parents find quality emergency child care.
WIC appointments and applications can be made over the phone even though WIC offices are closed. Individuals can call their local office and will then be directed to someone for help. Local office contact information can be found here by searching a zip code. Bellevue’s WIC office number is 402-734-2028. Physical presence requirements have been waived for WIC.
Stay Up to Date with What’s Happening in the Legislature
All the best,