Gov. Ricketts & DHHS leaders highlight service to Medicaid recipients, temporary housing option for teachers

Gov. Ricketts on reported issues with COVID-19 contact tracing
Gov. Ricketts on reported issues with COVID-19 contact tracing
Published: Sep. 21, 2020 at 7:01 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Gov. Pete Ricketts held a press briefing on Monday to provide updates on the State’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Tim Meyers, President of WellCare of Nebraska, joined the Governor for the event. Meyers is also the President of the Nebraska Association of Medicaid Health Plans (NAMHP). He discussed the steps these plans have taken to remove barriers to health care access during the pandemic.

Angie Ling, Incident Commander for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), highlighted the Nebraska Accommodation Project (NAP). NAP provides short-term housing so that Nebraskans can safely quarantine or isolate while protecting household members with a health condition. Through a partnership with the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE), NAP is now providing temporary housing to teachers to mitigate the risk of the virus traveling between households and schools.

Gina Uhing, health director for the Elkhorn Logan Valley Public Health Department, talked about the work of local health teams to support schools. She also discussed changes to the State’s directed health measures pertaining to quarantine and isolation requirements for the school-aged population.

Nebraska Dept. of Education Commissioner Matthew Blomstedt also participated in the press briefing to provide an update on the ways schools are partnering with their local health departments and the state to combat the spread of the virus.

“Most of our spread has come from unmasked encounters outside of schools, so social gatherings, riding in the car together and that’s what matters to us,” Blomstedt said. The commissioner also said with Gov. Ricketts’s new DHM’s, it’ll benefit students, teachers and schools.

There’s a personal responsibility that comes with this as well," Blomstedt said. “We talk about with the importance of masks and social distancing is important that we are modeling that in schools, I think the new DHM allows us to further model that.” If a student with COVID-19 is at school and exposing another student to the virus, the new DHM’s don’t require the student to quarantine. Gov. Ricketts said that person is only required to self-monitor symptoms.

Teachers are also given the option of staying in a hotel for 14 days if exposed to COVID-19. The state will pay for the entire stay if the teacher works on campus with students every day, has exposure on record and lives with a high-risk individual. State officials said they will use CARES Act funding to pay for these hotel rooms.

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