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Ricketts defends decision to scale back Nebraska COVID-19 data reporting

Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 12:55 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - At the end of a news conference that highlighted the importance of data reporting availability to Nebraska’s COVID-19 response, Gov. Pete Ricketts on Monday defended the state’s decision to scale back its COVID-19 dashboard.

“That really just reflects the needs right now that we have here in the state. So we are looking to get back to normal, folks, right?” he said.

Ricketts said daily data updates are unnecessary and providing that information on a weekly basis is “sufficient.”

“There is nobody who is planning their staff on a daily basis. Right? Nobody needs daily information to do staffing,” he said, stating that staffing occurs on a week-to-week basis. “People want to know a week ahead of time when they’re going to be working.”

Emphasizing that daily updates aren’t needed as the state’s hospital staffing emergency is decreasing as hospitals have more capacity, Ricketts equated the reporting of daily COVID-19 data to measuring the distance between Lincoln and Omaha with a yardstick.

When announcing the end of the state’s latest directed health measure that restricted elective procedures to preserve hospital capacity, Ricketts said Thursday that the state would roll back its COVID-19 data reporting to weekly updates. By the end of the day, the state had entirely removed demographical data from the Nebraska hospital capacity dashboard.

In response to much criticism of the disappearance of the dashboard, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services rolled out a different dashboard emphasizing hospital capacity, the metric Ricketts’ administration based the state’s response to the pandemic around. The state noted at the time that hospital capacity falling below 10% triggered the DHM — and the reappearance of the dashboard, which would remain in place until hospital capacity rose above the 10% threshold.

“We’re just remaining consistent with what we were doing earlier,” Ricketts said Monday, referencing the previous decision to take down the state’s entire COVID-19 dashboard in June, later attributing the decision to privacy concerns.

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