Nebraska Lawmakers Work to Add Protections for Mask Makers Amid Coronavirus

Senator Deb Fischer and Rep. Don Bacon are both focused on legislation to protect the makers of masks in light of the spread of coronavirus. (File photo)
March 3, 2020 - 12:00pm

Nebraska Congress members are supporting legislation to protect makers of medical masks amid the spread of the coronavirus.

Sen. Deb Fischer introduced a bill Tuesday that would protect makers of respirators, or N-95 masks, from lawsuits if those companies produced masks upon the federal government's request.

“There is a very high demand for these masks and respirators," said Rep. Don Bacon of Omaha, who introduced the same legislation in November 2019. "Folks want them for safety. Our emergency workers want it. Those who are caring for people want these masks.”

The surgeon general and other medical officials are urging the healthy public to not buy masks. They’re meant to help slow the spread of the virus and are intended for the sick and medical professionals, according to Jerome M. Adams, U.S. surgeon general.

Valley, Nebraska, near Omaha is home to a 3M facility, which is one of the largest producers of medical masks in the world.

“I think we need to meet these businesses part way and give them protection," Bacon told NET News. "And I will tell you, I’ve worked with some of these companies. They’ll work 24 hours a day to meet the demand. We have had these protections in the past. They would like to have them in the future, particularly under this emergency.”

It could take months for the bills to pass in both the House and Senate, Bacon said, but just weeks if the legislation passed as a supplemental bill.

“With the number of coronavirus cases on the rise, communities need to be able to quickly access CDC-approved equipment to keep Americans safe," Fischer said in a statement.



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