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Douglas County Health makes a face mask mandate case

Posted at 6:24 PM, Aug 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-24 19:24:32-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) - At the Douglas County Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, Health Director Dr. Lindsay Huse made an emotional plea for face masks.

To maintain the connection we all need, Dr. Huse says a face mask is a necessity.

"In Omaha, we have been lucky not to see the hospitalizations, the ventilator usage, and the depths that are on our PIED units here that other cities have been seeing. What has happened is that many of those kids continue to take COVID home to families and infect families, grandparents and others who have might not be vaccinated and whose immune systems are not up to the task," Huse said.

Douglas County Commissioner Mike Friend shared his skepticism surrounding the politicization around wearing a face mask.

"I don't trust the media. I don't trust the information being disseminated. I trust your information, this is clear, the metrics are clear. I want to make decisions going forward that are not politically based," Friend said.

Right now, the transmission risk in Douglas County is high. For masks to come off, Huse says we need the risk to be "low to moderate." She lists a "journey of immunity."

"We need either an approval or emergency use authorization for those kids that are under the age of 12, basically the 5-12-year-old age range, we want to allow eight weeks to get children in, get those kids vaccinated," Huse said.

As COVID cases rise across school districts, Dr. Huse recognizes there will be challenges ahead. Adding another layer of protection is how the county will fight the uncertainty.

"The important thing is keeping kids in seats. They cannot learn effectively if they are not in seats. This little piece of cloth helps keep kids in seats," Huse said.

If approved by the state, it could go into effect Wednesday. Given the state's stance in the past on mask mandates, it is unlikely the state will approve this latest request. The next move would be for Omaha City Council to approve a mask mandate for the city like it did last year but it could take weeks to put into place.

3 News Now reached out to Gov. Pete Ricketts and Mayor Jean Stothert. Both said they don't want to see any new mask mandates.

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