On Monday the Republican governor of Nebraska, Pete Ricketts, a close ally of Donald Trump and frequent visitor to the White House, opened his daily coronavirus briefing with a big announcement. “Today is May 4,” he said, “the first day of loosened restrictions statewide.”
With his declaration, Ricketts placed Nebraska at the vanguard of America’s reopening. Churches can now open their doors to worshippers, wedding bells and funeral dirges will be heard once more, hospitals can reschedule elective surgeries, and most Nebraskans will be able to resumehaving their hair cut, nails manicured, bodies massaged and skin tattooed.
Restaurants are once again serving diners, though at half capacity. Nebraska Crossing has become one of the first malls in North America to welcome back shoppers.
It’s a happy day in sunny Nebraska.
But the statistics paint a very different picture. In the last seven days, the state recorded a 57% leap in the daily number of new cases, to a total of 7,190. The death rate too is rising sharply, standing at 90.