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Ricketts acknowledges Trump unlikely to prevail in election challenges
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Ricketts acknowledges Trump unlikely to prevail in election challenges

Dr. Gary Anthone discusses the current treatments for coronavirus.

For the first time, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts publicly acknowledged Monday that President Donald Trump is unlikely to prevail in his remaining legal challenges to the November election and that a new president would be taking office in January.

But the Republican governor said he has not sent any messages, of congratulations or otherwise, to Joe Biden, referring to the Democrat as “president-elect,” and does not anticipate doing so. He said it will be up to Biden to set the tone for relations between Nebraska and the federal government.

Until now, Ricketts, like most elected Republicans, has deflected questions about the election, saying that several lawsuits and potential recounts were in the works. He had not acknowledged Biden as the winner of the presidential race. He also sidestepped questions about whether he agreed with Trump’s contention that the election was being stolen.

“We have to let the legal process work its way out with regard to this election,” he said previously.

Monday, Ricketts said Trump had not completely exhausted his legal options but added, “It seems unlikely, given the current losses that the president has experienced in court, that he’s going to be able to overturn the results of the election.”

Pete Ricketts mug (copy) (copy)

Ricketts

Ricketts mentioned the election during a Monday press conference that focused mostly on COVID-19.

Ricketts defended the statewide directed health measures he has enacted to slow the spread of the coronavirus despite stronger recommendations from the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

Ricketts said that his team has put together a plan that is right for Nebraska and that the White House recommendations have largely been the same for every state — a “cookie-cutter approach,” he said at a press conference.

As of Nov. 22, the task force suggested that effective practices to decrease spread of the virus were “requiring masks, limiting restaurant indoor capacity to less than 25%, and closing bars” until cases decrease.

Ricketts has said that if COVID-19 patients make up 25% of hospital beds statewide, additional restrictions will be imposed. Bars must close except for carryout service, indoor gatherings will be limited to 10 people and outdoor gatherings will be capped at 25 people.

Ricketts has extended the current directed health measures, which limit indoor gatherings to 25% occupancy and prohibit standing room at bars, among other restrictions, until the end of December. They were scheduled to expire Monday.

Health professionals have said tightened measures already are needed as the state’s case count is nearing the “red zone.”

Ricketts has repeatedly said he does not agree with issuing a statewide mask mandate because it would breed resistance. He said he thinks Nebraskans can do the right thing and choose to wear a mask while in public.

Last week, new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations declined week over week for the first time since July. But Ricketts said it was too early to tell whether that was a blip or because of the holiday weekend.

John Hilgert, the director of the Nebraska Department of Veterans Affairs, spoke about his experience contracting the virus in May. Hilgert said he continues to wear a mask out of respect for others and a show of selflessness.

“This is not a huge sacrifice compared to serving in the military,” Hilgert said.

Hilgert said people need to think beyond their immediate circle of friends and realize that they could be spreading the virus while being asymptomatic, especially to health care employees who work at long-term care facilities.

“If you think, well I’m young, I’m asymptomatic, I don’t have to worry ... I would say you do,” he said, adding that health care workers “are tired. They’re not tireless.”

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Martha Stoddard keeps legislators honest from The World-Herald's Lincoln bureau, where she covers news from the State Capitol. Follow her on Twitter @StoddardOWH. Phone: 402-670-2402

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