I grew up in Nebraska. Then I escaped to New York. When I lived in Nebraska, it was a pretty good place. North Loup. Scotia. Lincoln. The University. Bob Kerrey. We had stamina, hard work, and a future, and we were kind to each other because we believed in the Good Life. Then, over the last 30 years since I’ve been away, something broke, and a red-hard Republican named Pete Ricketts, decided to ruin the state in an ego-driven run for the governorship just so he could ultimately become a thug in the Trump Covid-19 Death Cult along with Ted Cruz, Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott. Thankfully, there are still some sane people in Huskerland who can use their power to do goodness — as in getting the Nebraska Covid-19 Dashboard reinstated:
This is how society devolves and decomposes — through neglect and hubris. "We're gonna be new Nebraska nurses! We don't need no stinkin' vaccines to work here!" pic.twitter.com/TdRo1lEzzw
— David Boles (@DavidBoles) August 24, 2021
When I see national Covid-19 maps, most of the country is in red, with rising infection rates, while Nebraska — in more ways than one, remains lily-white — at first, I was pleased Nebraskans were doing their part in getting vaccinated, and then I realized who the governor of the state was, and I began to poke around to see why Nebraska was so lowly rated in new Covid-19 infections. Of course, it turns out Ricketts is gaming the system.
In June, Nebraska decided to stop updating their Covid-19 dashboard:
The state Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday that it plans to retire the online dashboard that it has used to report statistics on the coronavirus pandemic for more than a year. The current state virus emergency is also set to expire on Wednesday, and along with that Nebraska is eliminating the last few social distancing guidelines that remained in place.
Believe it or not — this is Rickett’s Nebraska, so always believe the incredulous — but in August, it got even worse as data was removed from public view. Here’s the report from the JournalStar and the emphasis is mine:
COVID-19 data in Nebraska, which already has been scarce since the state stopped publishing a dashboard of information at the end of June, has become even scarcer.
The expiration of an executive order on Saturday means Nebraska’s health districts can no longer publicly report COVID-19 statistics, such as case numbers and vaccinations, for counties with fewer than 20,000 people.
A federal “safe harbor” standard sets that level at 20,000 people, which DHHS is following now that the executive order has expired.
Of Nebraska’s 93 counties, only 17 have at least 20,000 people. And five of the state’s 19 health districts don’t contain a single county with at least 20,000 people, meaning they can no longer report data on any of their individual counties.
The Panhandle Public Health District, for example, which covers 12 counties, now can only report individual county information for one of them. It announced Monday that it is dropping its COVID-19 risk dial because of that.
The good fight for the rights of the people to know what’s happening in their state is still happening in Nebraska — but when you have an entire state that is mostly farms and empty spaces, with the power of the majority of the people seated in liberal big cities like Lincoln and Omaha — you’re setting up a culture war between the vaccinated in town, and the unvaccinated along the braided prairie, and the governor is wielding all the power of knowing by hiding it behind his back, and making you guess which fist he’s going to use to punch you in the nose.
— Senator Machaela Cavanaugh (@senatormachaela) August 11, 2021
I mourn the people of Nebraska. I feel for those who are stuck there, with no way out, and living under the thumb of a Trump wannabee. It’s a disgrace to the good land that Nebraska can be held hostage by an egomaniac with his sights set on being the next iteration of Trump in the White House.
The only thing the good people beyond Nebraska can do to stop Ricketts is to step up and stop him at every junction and return. He has a lot of family money, so he has a preternatural momentum, but you cannot let that matter long enough to make you stop pushing back.
We cannot have any more egomaniac authoritarians trying to punish us from their selfish pulpits. Stand up. Vote! Make your morality heard in the heads of those who wish to punish you. Resist their demand that you submit to their ongoing cruelties of suffering, and death, by bending the truth behind their backs while presenting Big Lies as facts never in evidence.
The warnings have been sounded; and they are not hidden.