OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services joined up with local infectious disease experts from CHI Health and Nebraska Medicine in order to provide updates about omicron and COVID-19 in the community.
During the update, doctors reacted to the mask mandate implemented by Douglas County Health Director, Dr. Lindsay Huse, on Tuesday.
"This was incredibly welcomed news when we heard of the mask mandate. It was almost like we were cheering in the hallway," said Dr. Angela Hewlett, Infectious Disease Specialist with Nebraska Medicine and the Medical Director of Nebraska's Biocontainment Unit.
Hewlett says Huse's decision was the right one, despite what others may think. She adds, we need these interventions, not just to protect the health systems but other needed resources as well.
"We need to be using these interventions to continue to be able to provide other services we take for granted. Like imagine calling 911 and not having someone respond or calling the fire department and not having someone respond to a house fire because we have too many people out sick," Hewlett said.
Doctors said masking will keep you and others around you safe, but emphasized the importance of a well-fitting mask.
"If you’re going to wear a cloth mask [wear a] multiple layered cloth mask, not single-layered, but ideally a double mask or KN95," said Dr. Renuga Vivekanandan, Chief of Infectious Disease at CHI Health-Creighton University.
The mandate is in effect as of early Wednesday morning and applies to the City of Omaha. Everyone five and older is required to wear a mask. According to Huse, the mandate will be in effect until there are less than 200 cases per 100,000 people in a seven-day period and a hospital capacity at or below 85% for at least seven days.
Dr. Hewlett says we should all be wearing masks, calling it an act of kindness.
Watch the press conference below or on our 3 News Now Facebook page: