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News to start your Friday: What you need to know about state's loosened health directives
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News to start your Friday: What you need to know about state's loosened health directives

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The latest coronavirus numbers

Nebraska cases: 11,425

Nebraska deaths: 143

Iowa cases: 16,170

Iowa deaths: 414

U.S. cases: 1,551,095

U.S. deaths: 93,061​

Omaha man is charged with first-degree murder in slaying of convicted sex offender

Inmates in a medical unit at the Douglas County Jail greeted an Omaha man charged with killing a convicted sex offender with a standing ovation, the man’s attorney said Thursday.

James Fairbanks, who was arrested Tuesday, also has had more than $1,200 placed into his commissary account, attorney Steve Lefler said — apparently from donors who cheer Fairbanks as a hero online.

But Chief Deputy Douglas County Attorney Brenda Beadle said Thursday that Fairbanks shouldn’t have taken the law into his own hands, which is why he was arrested.

“I don’t classify somebody who would kill somebody in cold blood a hero,” she said. “He doesn’t get to be the judge and jury. That’s why we have a system in place.”

In court Thursday afternoon, Fairbanks, 43, was ordered held without bail on charges of first-degree murder and use of a firearm to commit a felony. Authorities say he fatally shot 64-year-old Mattieo Condoluci on May 14 at Condoluci’s home at 4305 Pinkney St. Officials said Fairbanks later wrote an email to local news media outlets taking responsibility for the slaying.

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What you need to know: Q&A on Nebraska's new rules for bars, social gatherings, sports

All of Nebraska will take the next step toward reopening June 1 as Gov. Pete Ricketts issues new health directives to help manage social interactions, business operations and sports.

On Thursday, Ricketts announced the next phase of directed health measures. Eighty-nine counties that took their initial reopening steps this month will see some other restrictions eased in June.

The remaining four counties — Hall, Hamilton and Merrick in central Nebraska and Dakota County in northeast Nebraska — can make their initial moves to reopen as of June 1.

In the vast majority of counties, Ricketts’ new emergency directives will allow larger events, certain sports and the reopening of bars.

But it’s not a return to business as usual.

Here’s an explainer about what’s in the health measures:

Q: What is opening up?

A: Some sports — limited and non-contact sports that were off limits — are allowed. Bars. Group gatherings, which applies to a whole range of auditoriums, stadiums, events and meetings, zoos, libraries and swimming pools. And wedding and funeral receptions.

Q: What places can expand on their initial reopening?

A: Gyms and fitness centers. Salons and barbershops. Tattoo parlors and massage studios.

Q: What about sports?

A: Ricketts is deciding which sports are allowed based on the level of contact in the sport, and he’s using the categories of contact from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Baseball, softball, volleyball, tennis and golf may begin practices June 1, and competitions can begin June 18. Rodeo events can begin June 1.

But basketball, football, soccer and wrestling are considered contact sports and remain prohibited.

Q: How will bars work?

A: Bars can reopen, but one big restriction is that patrons must be seatedwhile there. That’s unless people are ordering or using the restroom. The bars also must restrict their crowds: no more than 50% of their rated occupancy, 6 feet of separation between seated parties, no more than six people in a seated party, and 6 feet of separation between performers and patrons. Patrons can’t eat food at bar seating. Also, no pool, darts or arcade games are allowed.

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Withdrawal from Open Skies Treaty would ground Offutt reconnaissance jets

The Trump administration on Thursday gave notice that it will pull out of the 1992 Open Skies Treaty, a move that would permanently ground two Offutt-based photo reconnaissance jets used to enforce the accord.

The treaty allows the U.S., Russia and 32 other nations — mostly European countries — to conduct supervised, unarmed observation flights over one another’s territory. The flights began in 2002; more than 1,500 have been flown since.

The planes carry expensive cameras, called sensors, built to specifications strictly regulated by the treaty. The U.S. aircraft, 60-year-old OC-135B jets, are maintained by the 55th Wing and flown by crews from the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron at Offutt. The mission crews that operate the cameras and analyze the imagery are from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency in Virginia.

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jwade@owh.com, 402-444-1067

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Jessica Wade covers breaking news, crime and the Omaha zoo. Follow her on Twitter @Jess_Wade_OWH. Phone: 402-444-1067

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