Nebraska Hits New Hospitalization Metric, Nearly All Restrictions Removed Starting Thursday

Dec. 23, 2020, 3:04 p.m. ·


Listen To This Story

Nearly all restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 will be removed effective Thursday at 12:01 a.m., according to an announcement from Gov. Pete Ricketts' office.

Under Ricketts’ strategy of preserving hospital capacity, statewide Directed Health Measures are determined by what percentage of staffed hospital beds are occupied by COVID patients. That percentage has been going down lately.

Click here for full version of the DHM metric chart (credit: Nebraska DHHS)

On December 12, restrictions were relaxed when the figure fell below 20 percent, putting the state in the so-called Yellow phase. Now, with the 7-day average below 15%, restrictions are being further relaxed, in the so-called Blue phase.

The change allows elective surgeries to resume with no restrictions, where previously hospitals could only do elective surgeries if they could keep at least 10% of their hospital beds open.

And indoor gatherings are now allowed at 75% of a venue’s capacity, up from 50% under the previous order. Every other restriction is removed, including a cap of 8 people per group in bars and restaurants.

Lancaster County has its own Directed Health Measure, which includes a mask mandate and limits restaurants and bars to 50% capacity.

566 Nebraskans are currently hospitalized with COVID-19. That number has gone down steadily since a peak of 987 about a month ago.