Omaha City Council approves another extension of mask mandate

By | November 11, 2020

The Omaha City Council voted again to extend the city’s mask mandate past the holidays and into late February.Unlike in past public hearings, where both sides of the argument would speak at length, council members kept their comments brief and passed the mandate extension, though it was not unanimous.”It is important, in my judgment, that this mask mandate continue to exist,” council member Ben Gray said.During Tuesday afternoon’s meeting, council considered two significant changes to the ordinance.The first: a sunset clause on the mandate should the city or Douglas County meet specific terms before the deadline. The mandate would end if:The positivity rate drops to five percent or less for two consecutive weeksReports of 10 cases or fewer per 100,000 people in those two weeks based on a 7-day rolling averageAccording to the Douglas County Health Department’s COVID-19 dashboard, the latest rate showed just over 88 positive cases per 100,000.If those thresholds are not met, the mandate is set to last through Feb. 23, 2021. Council member Pete Festersen introduced the amendment during the meeting, which was approved. Festersen said extending the ordinance to that date will help protect families and students over the holidays.”This is going to be more than a 30-day challenge for us,” Festersen said. “We do have the holiday’s coming up. It’s important to get through the holidays and get kids through the holidays and then back to school.” Council members Aimee Melton and Brinker Harding both said Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts’ recent health measure declarations will do a better job of combatting the spread.”What I’ve been saying is the way we’re going about doing this is clunky. It does not truly address the issue of trying to stem the spread of (COVID-19),” Harding said over Zoom. During the meeting, Harding confirmed he was unable to attend the meeting in person because he had recently been in contact with a person who tested positive for the virus.”We need to just be careful that we’re not making the masks our only focus of getting this virus under control,” Melton said.Stay with KETV NewsWatch 7 for updates on this developing story.

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The Omaha City Council voted again to extend the city’s mask mandate past the holidays and into late February.

Unlike in past public hearings, where both sides of the argument would speak at length, council members kept their comments brief and passed the mandate extension, though it was not unanimous.

“It is important, in my judgment, that this mask mandate continue to exist,” council member Ben Gray said.

During Tuesday afternoon’s meeting, council considered two significant changes to the ordinance.

The first: a sunset clause on the mandate should the city or Douglas County meet specific terms before the deadline. The mandate would end if:

  • The positivity rate drops to five percent or less for two consecutive weeks
  • Reports of 10 cases or fewer per 100,000 people in those two weeks based on a 7-day rolling average

According to the Douglas County Health Department’s COVID-19 dashboard, the latest rate showed just over 88 positive cases per 100,000.

If those thresholds are not met, the mandate is set to last through Feb. 23, 2021. Council member Pete Festersen introduced the amendment during the meeting, which was approved. Festersen said extending the ordinance to that date will help protect families and students over the holidays.

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“This is going to be more than a 30-day challenge for us,” Festersen said. “We do have the holiday’s coming up. It’s important to get through the holidays and get kids through the holidays and then back to school.”

Council members Aimee Melton and Brinker Harding both said Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts’ recent health measure declarations will do a better job of combatting the spread.

“What I’ve been saying is the way we’re going about doing this is clunky. It does not truly address the issue of trying to stem the spread of (COVID-19),” Harding said over Zoom. During the meeting, Harding confirmed he was unable to attend the meeting in person because he had recently been in contact with a person who tested positive for the virus.

“We need to just be careful that we’re not making the masks our only focus of getting this virus under control,” Melton said.

Stay with KETV NewsWatch 7 for updates on this developing story.

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