Lincoln – Nebraska is being hit hard by Covid-19. Why? The following graphic offers a likely explanation. The coefficient of determination between the variables (R-squared) is .73. It suggests Nebraska's high Covid-19 ranking is attributable in considerable part to its low ranking in masking-up.
Nebraskans, when it comes to football, are ranking-obsessed. Our state university's football team is going nowhere this year in national rankings, but if Nebraskans would come together to raise our ranking in mask-wearing, it could be a source of state pride as well as save lives.
A look at the graphic suggests that even an increase of ten percent in masking-up would move Nebraska into the top ranks of the nation, certainly into the top ten.
Who might take the lead to put Nebraska into national leadership? Local elected officials; the University of Nebraska Medical Center; newspaper editors; and the business community, led by the Lincoln and Omaha chambers of commerce.
The Lincoln Chamber already has a "Mask-Up Lincoln" effort underway, which could be expanded statewide. The business group quotes the NU Medical Center leader, Dr. Jeffrey Gold, calling for us to work together "shoulder to shoulder," and acknowledges the business community's own "special responsibility" to speak up:“We’re at a critical moment in time. We’re going to get through this and emerge stronger as a society, state and country. We’re going to have to do it together, shoulder to shoulder.”
The Lincoln Chamber recognizes our prominent status in the community as a trusted, nonpartisan, collaborative organization places a special responsibility upon us to speak out. We urge all citizens of Lincoln to remember that we will all play a vital role in safely navigating this pandemic.
Let's put self-respect, respect for others, and pride of ranking* back into our behavior and emerge from this pandemic with a sense that we Nebraskans have met what many around the country, and around the world, say is ultimately a test of character. Not to mention more of us taking personal responsibility to help our communities.
* Of course it's possible that other states will pick up their efforts and leave Nebraska even further behind. An analysis of 26 Republican governors shows that 21 of them have moved on masking-up beyond the Trump administration's recommendations and only 5, including Nebraska's, are echoing Trump. However, many of the 21 made their moves months ago, so it is not futile for Nebraska now to catch up through a united, citizen-led effort and pass them. And look at the slope of the line: a 10% increase in masking-up might reduce cases 20%. Think of our front-line hospital workers; think of our struggling economy. Let's not give up.