LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — In a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird and Pat Lopez, Director of the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department announced that the City of Lincoln and Lancaster County will reinstate an indoor mask mandate starting Thursday, August 26 through the end of September. The mandate will apply to everyone 2-years-old and over, regardless of vaccine status.
Russ Gronewald, President and CEO of Bryan Health said that the hospital system is having to divert patients out of state and to other cities because of a lack of capacity so Bryan Health fully supports the mandate.
Ahead of the city-wide mandate, Lincoln Public Schools will be implementing a mask mandate for all people in its buildings starting on Wednesday.
The district provided the following:
We are greatly concerned about the rising number of positive COVID-19 cases we are seeing not only in Lincoln, but in our students and staff. Out of the 788 positive cases reported by the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department August 15-21, 110 of those were LPS students, or 14 percent of the county’s positive cases. For comparison, during the peak of the spread in December 2020, out of the 2,100 cases, 110 were LPS students or five percent of the county’s positive cases.
Last week we had 723 students excluded from school. Without the hybrid learning option for students who are excluded, our students are missing out on valuable instruction and stability. We want to keep students in our schools. Students need in-person learning. Families need the stability of in-person school. By requiring face coverings for all students and staff, we will not only reduce the risk of spread, but reduce the number of students who have to quarantine and miss school.
Today the LLCHD announced a new Directed Health Measure that requires face coverings for everyone inside all businesses and buildings (other than residences) in Lincoln and Lancaster County.
Due to the recent announcement, effective Wednesday, August 25, 2021, Lincoln Public Schools will implement the following changes to our face covering protocols:
Thank you for your continued patience and understanding as we navigate this pandemic together.
- Face coverings will be REQUIRED for ALL students in grades PreK-12, LPS staff, visitors, volunteers and families inside all LPS buildings.
- Face coverings will also be REQUIRED on all buses. Eating will no longer be allowed on buses.
- Students may remove their face coverings during strenuous activities and exercise.
- Face coverings are REQUIRED for all individuals attending athletic practices and events held inside except for athletes during strenuous physical exertion.
- LPS will provide face coverings to students and staff who need them.
- If you believe your child meets the criteria for a face covering exemption outlined on our website, please fill out this form.
Mayor Baird's office provided the following:
Mask Mandate Begins Thursday
Risk Dial moves to mid-orange
To respond to an increase in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD) today issued a new local Directed Health Measure (DHM) that includes a mask mandate. The DHM will require all individuals ages two and older – regardless of vaccination status – to wear a mask when they are in an indoor space unless six feet of separation from others at all times can be achieved. The DHM requires business owners to ensure their patrons ages two and older wear masks any time they cannot maintain six feet of separation with non-household members.
The DHM goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, August 26 and continues until September 30, when it will be reevaluated.
The DHM includes exceptions. Masks are not required for the following:
- Individuals eating or drinking or seated to eat or drink
- Those exercising
- Those engaged in an occupation that prevents the wearing of a mask
- Those obtaining a service or purchasing goods or services that requires the temporary removal of the mask
- A person giving a speech, lecture, or broadcast to an audience as long as six feet of distance from other individuals is maintained
- Those individuals who cannot otherwise wear a mask because of a medical condition, a mental health condition, or a disability that prevents the wearing of masks
- Courts of law; meetings or sessions of the Nebraska Legislature; individuals accessing federal, state, county, or city government services; congregate living settings; group homes and residential drug and/or mental health treatment facilities; or shelters
For more information on the DHM, visit covid19.lincoln.ne.gov or call 402-441-6280. For general information on COVID-19, visit the website or call the Health Department hotline at 402-441-8006.
“To slow the increasing spread of the virus, it’s important that the mask requirement includes everyone, regardless of vaccination status, because of the aggressive and highly contagious Delta variant,” said Health Director Pat Lopez. “Wearing a mask is a commonsense measure that has a strong impact. As a community, we know masks work based on first-hand experience. The previous mask mandate contributed to a lower case rate and lower death rate in Lancaster County than other highly populated counties in the state.”
“This most recent surge in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths affects everyone – vaccinated and unvaccinated alike,” said Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird. “The actions we take as a community to slow the spread of this virus, guard our hospital capacity, protect those unable to be vaccinated, and keep our economy thriving matter. The next few weeks are critical.”
Law enforcement will not issue tickets to individuals for non-compliance. The City will continue to focus on education rather than enforcement. Those who observe suspected violations should not call the Police or Sheriff's 911 or non-emergency numbers. These situations should be reported to UPLNK either through the phone app or online at UPLNK.lincoln.ne.gov.
Lopez also announced today that the COVID-19 Risk Dial is moving from low-orange to mid-orange. The change indicates that the risk of the virus spreading and the impact on our community is high and continues to increase. On the color-coded dial, red represents the highest risk of COVID-19 spread, and green represents the lowest risk.
So far this month, 18 local residents have died from COVID-19. Fourteen were unvaccinated.
The position of the Risk Dial is based on multiple local indicators and information from the previous three weeks:
- The seven-day rolling average of new daily cases has been over 100 since August 17.
- The local positivity rate has increased to over 13%.
- Since the beginning of August, the daily average of COVID-19 patients hospitalized locally has more than doubled, from 43 to 78.
Lopez said everyone should continue to monitor their health and to be on the alert for fever, cough, shortness of breath and other symptoms of COVID-19. Even if you are vaccinated, you should separate yourself from others and get tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19.
Seventy percent of the Lancaster County population age 16 and older is now fully vaccinated. Nearly 25,000 county residents were vaccinated over the past eight weeks, an increase of nearly 70 percent since the beginning of July.
The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department also provided the following update on COVID activity in the area:
Lincoln Has Three More Deaths From COVID-19
Lab-confirmed cases reported today: 158
Total number of cases: 34,596
Deaths reported today: 3, a woman in her 50s and a man in his 90s who were both hospitalized, and a woman in her 90s who was not hospitalized. One person was vaccinated, two were unvaccinated.
Total number of deaths: 262
Hospitalizations for COVID-19 positive patients: 75 with 55 from Lancaster County (7 on ventilators) and 20 from other communities (5 on ventilators)
Risk Dial: mid-orange, high risk of COVID-19 spread and impact in the community
Vaccinations administered (vaccination goal is 75%):
- Initiated vaccinations (first doses): 193,225
- Completed vaccinations (second doses and J&J vaccine): 179,584
- Residents age 16 and older who are fully vaccinated: 70.1%
Vaccinations: Progress in our COVID-19 vaccination efforts positively impacts our community. The more people who are vaccinated, the less opportunity the virus and its variants will have to spread. COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective. It provides protection against the virus, prevents severe illness and saves lives. Residents age 12 and older are now eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccine, and appointments are available for this week. Residents can sign up and schedule a vaccination appointment at COVID19.lincoln.ne.gov. Residents can also find a local pharmacy offering vaccinations at vaccines.gov or by texting their ZIP code to 438829.
Those who do not have online access or who need assistance with registration or scheduling may call the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD) COVID-19 hotline at 402-441-8006 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.
Upcoming vaccination clinics (subject to change; walk-ins welcome at all locations):
- Wednesday, August 25, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., UNL City Campus, 1400 “R” St., plaza outside the Union – first and second doses; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., UNL East Campus, 1705 Arbor Drive, plaza outside the East Union – first and second doses; 3 to 5 p.m. Nebraska Wesleyan University, Acklie Hall of Science, 4950 Baldwin Ave.– first and second doses
- Thursday, August 26, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., UNL City Campus, plaza outside the Union – first and second doses; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., UNL East Campus, plaza outside the East Union – first and second doses
- Friday, August 27, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., LLCHD, 3131 “O” St. – first and second doses
MEDIA NOTE: Media will be notified regarding coverage of vaccinations. DO NOT go to any venue without making arrangements with LLCHD.
Testing: The process begins with a free online risk assessment available at BryanHealth.com and CHIHealth.com. Testing is available from:
- Bryan Health: Testing is available without an appointment at the three Bryan Urgent Care locations, 7501 S. 27th St.; 5901 N. 27th St.; and 4333 S. 86th St. To check wait times, call 402-481-6343.
- CHI Health: Walk-in testing is available at three priority care locations: Antelope Creek, 2510 S. 40th St., Suite 100; Southwest, 1240 Aries Drive; and Stevens Creek, 1601 N. 86th St. For drive up testing, virtual quick care is available 24/7 at CHIHealth.com to chat with a provider and schedule a testing appointment.
- Nomi Health: Drive-thru testing is available at Gateway Mall Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Appointments are not required, but people are encouraged to preregister by visiting testing.nomihealth.com/signup/ne.
- Local pharmacies including CVS, HyVee and Walgreens and other health care provider offices and urgent care clinics also offer testing. Those uninsured or underinsured can call the LLCHD COVID-19 hotline at 402-441-8006 to be connected to testing resources.
For more information, visit COVID19.lincoln.ne.gov or call the LLCHD hotline at 402-441-8006.
Watch the press conference below.