Mask Mandate in Douglas County? Could Happen Next Week

July 24, 2020 - 2:13pm

Douglas County officials are considering a mask mandate similar to one in Lincoln, but are still sorting through the legal requirements.The Douglas County Board of Health has called a special meeting for Monday morning to discuss the possibility of a mandate. Right now, individual businesses can require face coverings, but there isn’t a county-wide requirement. Douglas County Health Director Dr. Adi Pour says she’d prefer not to require masks, but it might be a good idea.

“Believe me, I do not like mandates because I feel we all are adults and we all know how to do the right thing,” Pour said. “But after we have seen what Lincoln has been doing and how well it has been perceived in that community, how people are calling me and are telling me it really feels good to be in this community. It feels like we are all in it together.”          

Lincoln has had an indoor mask mandate in place for a week now. Governor Pete Ricketts says his office is still exploring legal options to block that mandate and doesn’t think forcing people to wear masks is a good idea.

“I think we need to be cautious about making something a crime that we want people to adopt voluntarily,” Ricketts said. “And that’s really the approach we’ve taken, whether it was our stay at home order, which   was not in our DHM, it was something we asked people to do and Nebraskans did it. Now, similarly, we need to ask Nebraskans to wear masks and we want them to do that without making it a crime as well.”           

Ricketts points out that Nebraska still has plenty of hospital and ventilator capacity. Some health experts expect an increase in hospitalizations over the next few weeks because of a lag between when people contract the virus and when they get sick.      

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