While continuing to urge Nebraskans to sign up for COVID-19 vaccinations, Gov. Pete Ricketts turned a spotlight Wednesday on the work of Becton Dickinson employees in the state who are helping manufacture needles and syringes at a record pace.

BD employs 2,500 people in Columbus, Holdrege and Broken Bow and is conducting widespread operations around the clock to meet its obligations in “playing a critical role in the fight” against the virus, company CEO Tom Polen said.

The company has committed to produce another 1 billion syringes at its manufacturing locations, 300 million of which will be used in the United States, Polen said, and that equates to 33 extra syringes produced every second.

“It’s a very challenging period,” he said. 

Polen participated in Ricketts’ coronavirus briefing at the Capitol by Zoom from California.

Ricketts pointed to “great progress” in vaccinating Nebraskans along with declining COVID-19 hospitalizations while continuing to urge Nebraskans to sign up for to be vaccinated.

There have been 552,000 vaccinations in the state so far, the governor said, noting that one new national survey places Nebraska first among the states in vaccinating people 65 and older when measured in terms of percent of population.

As the state prepares to move into vaccination of Nebraskans 50 to 64 years old, along with those of any age who two or more serious health conditions, Ricketts urged everyone to sign up at vaccinate.ne.gov to schedule an appointment.