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Governor Ricketts urging vaccinations as state moves to Phase 2b, with all adults eligible

Published: Apr. 5, 2021 at 1:53 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Governor Pete Ricketts discussed vaccinations and rental assistance in his press conference Monday morning, the same day the state moved to vaccinating everyone over 18-years-old. Gov. Ricketts is urging all Nebraskans to sign up.

“Please, folks, sign up to get the vaccine. This is the way we work our way through the pandemic,” Ricketts said.

This is especially important as for the first time in 19 weeks, hospitalizations in Nebraska rose. There are 132 COVID-19 patients in the hospital right now, that’s up from 102 in the hospital last Monday.

Though the vaccine is now eligible to nearly every Nebraska adult, Ricketts said there are still some groups who are hesitant. Among them are members of the Hispanic community. Josie Rodriguez, with DHHS, spoke at the press conference about this issue, which is a big concern as members of the Hispanic community are more likely to be hospitalized and die from COVID-19.

“There are still concerns and worries and we get it,” Rodriguez said. “But it is important we get vaccinated. We’re urging you to get registered.”

Rodriguez said the state is working with organizations across the state to connect with with Hispanic Nebraskans. They’ve also held virtual townhalls where community members can ask questions.

“Before you make your final decision, do you own research, attend a town hall and find out more about the vaccine,” Rodriguez said.

To register for the vaccine go to vaccinate.ne.gov or call 833-998-2275. Both the website and phone line have Spanish language options.

Governor Ricketts also gave an update on the state’s Emergency Rental Assistance program which provided $158 million to help low income Nebraskans pay rent and bills. Since the state program launched, $1.6 million had been requested for rent payments, and $425,000 have been distributed to landlords. $100,000 has been requested to pay for utilities and $16,000 of that money has been distributed to the utilities themselves.

566 people have received assistance, 238 are still waiting for approval and 4,399 Nebraskans have registered with the state website.

“We have much more money available,” Shannon Harner, executive director of the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority said. “We know the need is there so we need people to apply.”

Lancaster County and Douglas County have their own websites to register for assistance, but you can find out how to apply for those at the state’s website.

Harner said the money can go toward back rent and future rent and utilities like electricity, water, gas, sewer, garbage and internet bills. Once approved the money will go directly to the landlord or utility provider.

To apply, you’ll need a copy of your lease and proof that you have been financially impacted by COVID-19. You’ll also have to show proof that your income is less than 80% of the area median income of your county.

For more information on the rental assistance program go to the coronavirus.ne.gov.

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