Dear Governor Ricketts:
We appreciate the leadership you have demonstrated throughout the COVID-19 process. The North Platte Area Chamber and Development Corporation is respectfully asking you to reconsider the North Platte / Lincoln County area restricted designation and be included on the list of eligible areas in Nebraska to reopen May 11 under the new Directive Health Measures.
North Platte area residents have been cautious and proactive in following the DHM guidelines set in place, which is now demonstrated by the low number of COVID-19 cases in Lincoln County. We have had only three new cases in the past three weeks, which is considerably less than some of the Nebraska areas listed for reopening. We have had only 20 cases throughout the pandemic.
West Central District Health Department, which oversees Lincoln County and the counties to our north, announced publicly through the media this past Saturday, that the May 11 date would apply to North Platte. Our business community was very thankful. They have endured a lot, but then WCDHD changed their stance yesterday to a May 31 reopening. They say it was based on the Governor's decision.
This additional 20-day delay moving our local reopening to May 31 is a business killer for some of our establishments, who are already severely damaged. It will also continue to damage our local economy. Some of our data collecting shows that most of our restaurants are showing a 75 to 80 percent decline in business. Motels are even worse. Some will not make it.
We all know citizens will only gradually get back into the swing of conducting business as usual, but at least we would be giving our local businesses a fighting chance to succeed with a May 11 opening date under the new DHM as compared to a May 31 reopening date.
We feel we are being penalized for being neighbors to the counties to our east, which have had high incident rates. We are no closer mileage wise to Lexington than Omaha is to Lincoln, and Omaha gets to open, while Lincoln is still restricted. We hope you will reconsider.
Dary Person Gary Person President & CEO