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Could Omaha's mask mandate be nearing the end?

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Posted at 4:46 PM, Apr 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-28 17:46:04-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Omaha's mask debate may be winding down as the city's mandate moves one step closer to coming to an end.

The city council did not take any action to extend the current mandate at its meeting on Tuesday.

That means the council would have to pass an emergency ordinance to keep it from expiring on May 25.

Under city rules, it takes three meetings to pass regular ordinances which then go into effect after another 15 days.

Omaha has been under a city mask mandate since last August.

Several council members told our partners at the Omaha World-Herald unless numbers start to go back up, they are willing to let the mandate expire.

“In my discussions with every one of the council members, they saw no reason to extend the mandate,” councilman Brinker Harding told the Omaha World-Herald.

"I don’t want to have the mask ordinance in effect any longer than absolutely necessary, but we’ll continue to evaluate the numbers in the coming weeks,” councilman Pete Festersen added.

Dr. Mark Rupp, chief of the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s infectious diseases division, said it still might be too soon to let the mandate lapse. The latest data shows Douglas County with 18 cases per 100,000 people on a 7-day rolling average. Public health officials would prefer to see a single-digit number.

“It would be better, in my opinion, to be safe (rather) than sorry,” Rupp told the paper.

Regardless of a mandate, councilwoman Colleen Brennan told the World-Herald school districts and businesses would still be able to institute their own policies about masks.

Data from Douglas County shows about 41 percent of residents 16 and up are fully vaccinated.

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