Nebraska to drop almost all state-imposed COVID-19 mandates

Nebraska to drop almost all state-imposed COVID-19 mandates
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Nebraska Gov. Pete RickettsPete RickettsThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by National Industries for the Blind - Trump seeks to flip 'Rage' narrative; Dems block COVID-19 bill Nebraska to drop almost all state-imposed COVID-19 mandates Are Republican governors living in a parallel universe? MORE (R) announced Wednesday that the state was moving to phase four of reopening, ending  almost all statewide pandemic restrictions Sept. 14.

"We are loosening the restrictions further on Sept. 14," Ricketts (R) said at a news conference Wednesday, The Associated Press reported.

The governor announced slimmed-down pandemic measures for the state which include limiting the size of large indoor gatherings such as concert venues, theaters and meeting halls.

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However, all other state-imposed mandates will be voluntary, according to the wire service. 

The decision to pare down restrictions was made based on the capacity of Nebraska medical facilities to handle an increase in patients, according to state officials.

"The goal has always been to protect hospital capacity, and capacity remains stable," said Ricketts spokesman Taylor Gage.

Nebraska's current medical facility levels show 36 percent availability of regular beds and 31 percent availability for intensive care unit beds, according to the Nebraska Department of Health.

Ventilators are available at 81 percent capacity, with little wavering in those numbers in the past few months.

The new rules have already been in effect in 27 of Nebraska's 93 counties, most of which are rural areas. 

The new measures will apply Monday to all counties in the state except for Lancaster County, where the University of Nebraska's main campus is located. 

Nebraska has confirmed 36,917 coronavirus cases and 421 deaths since the pandemic began, according to the health department's tracking portal.