LINCOLN, Neb. (KTIV) -- Since July, the state of Nebraska has discontinued maximum allowance benefits for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-- or SNAP-- from the COVID-19 relief package. But, that could soon change.
During a news conference Thursday, Gov. Pete Ricketts said the state will be submitting paperwork for SNAP benefits this month. If approved, the benefits would be paid out in December.
Earlier this year, SNAP was expanded to help low-income families impacted by the virus by providing the maximum benefits to those enrolled in the program. The program was created to help recipients buy food, raising the nutrition levels among low-income households.
"Was that a mistake? And the answer is no. We acted with the information we had at the time, which was we were seeing lower case counts than what we were seeing previously in the spring. And again we are adjusting to us seeing more hospitalizations and we think there is more uncertainty so we are going back and asking for the maximum benefits.," said Gov. Ricketts.
Right now about 71,000 residents in the state are enrolled in the SNAP program.
The decision to expand SNAP comes as Nebraska officials report the state is heading in the wrong direction when it comes to COVID-19 hospitalizations.
As of Nov. 4, nearly 700 Nebraskans were hospitalized due to the virus. The state's chief medical officer Doctor Gary Anthone said last week alone 178 Nebraskans were admitted to area hospitals. He expects this week the state would see the same increase, if not more.
Anthone said he speaks with hospital CEO's and CMO's on a daily basis.
He said they say the state cannot surge their way out of the pandemic simply by adding more beds, or staffing, to hospitals.
"Our behaviors now are critical now to affect the spread of COVID-19, to not only protect your health, but the health of the community," said Dr. Anthone.
The governor says it's important to avoid the three C's - crowded places, close contacts, and confined spaces.
You can watch Ricketts' full news conference here.