AP NEWS

Ricketts: Pence pledged to help states with virus outbreak

March 2, 2020 GMT

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts said Monday that federal officials are urging states to seek whatever federal resources they need to prepare for the COVID-19 virus as it spreads in the United States and to focus as much as possible on prevention.

Ricketts said he’s aiming to ensure that Nebraska is the “best-prepared state” to handle the virus if any cases are confirmed outside of quarantine areas. His comments came after a conference call that included governors, Vice President Mike Pence and state and federal health officials.

Ricketts said Nebraska is well-positioned thanks to the University of Nebraska Medical Center, a major quarantine center for exposed patients, but people should remain vigilant. He said medical center officials are in regular contact with U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, who serves on the House Appropriations Committee, which handles budget issues.

Ricketts said federal officials emphasized the need for prevention with thorough hand-washing and avoiding contact with sick people.

“We want people to be aware of it,” he said. “Nobody should be panicked, but this is something we need to take seriously.”

Ricketts said he and other governors expect to discuss the situation weekly with Pence until further notice.