Gov. Pete Ricketts on Thursday announced action to temporarily expand child care options in Nebraska amid the novel coronavirus disease pandemic.

Ricketts and Secretary of State Robert Evnen also announced the May 12 primary election will proceed as scheduled.

Ricketts' news release follows:

LINCOLN – Today, Governor Pete Ricketts issued an executive order to expand access to childcare options during the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

 The order is intended to activate nonprofits, faith-based organizations, and schools to help provide the care families need now. It eases the licensing requirements to open and operate a temporary, non-residential child care in an alternative setting. The executive order is effective immediately and will remain in place until 30 days after the State lifts the current COVID-19 state of emergency. The executive order can be viewed by clicking here.

 The Governor also announced that the May 12 primary election will continue as scheduled in Nebraska. He emphasized that fulfilling the State’s duty to carry out elections is vital to the health of our democratic republic. Secretary of State Bob Evnen joined Gov. Ricketts to talk about how the election will take place. He said that Nebraska voters will receive an early voting request form by mail, which needs to be filled out, signed, and sent in to county election officials by May 1, 2020 to receive an early voting ballot. He encouraged Nebraskans to vote early by mail or by delivering their ballot to dropboxes located outside of county offices.

 Additionally, Secretary Evnen confirmed that polling sites will be open for Nebraskans who prefer to vote in-person on Election Day in May. The State will provide sanitation kits at each location, which contain sanitizers and disinfectant wipes, along with masks and gloves for poll workers. Polling sites will not be limited to 10 persons, though each one will have protocols in place to maintain social distance between voters. Information on voting can be found at the Secretary of State’s website: https://sos.nebraska.gov/elections/2020-elections.

 Nebraska Department of Labor Commissioner John H. Albin also participated in the press conference to give an update on Nebraska’s unemployment situation. He noted the rise in unemployment claims due to the COVID-19 emergency, and he outlined benefits available to Nebraskans who are out of work or have seen their hours reduced. Any workers in a non-paid status due to COVID-19 may file a claim for unemployment insurance benefits. Currently, the maximum weekly benefit amount is $440 per week. Unemployment claims in Nebraska are filed online at NEworks.nebraska.gov. From March 22nd through May 2nd, NDOL is waiving the requirement to search for work to be eligible for benefits. Additionally, NDOL is waiving the requirement that applicants serve an unpaid waiting week once their eligibility has been determined.

 Commissioner Albin also highlighted the Short-Term Compensation program. It helps to prevent layoffs by allowing employers to uniformly reduce their affected teammates’ hours by 10-60%. These teammates are then eligible to receive a prorated unemployment benefit based on their reduction in hours. For more information, visit this page: dol.nebraska.gov/stc.

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