LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — For months, officials across the state have been pleading with residents to wear a mask, and numbers have continued to stay high.
So, over the past week a run of cities across the state have passed mask mandates.
Fifteen cities, from Ralston to Hastings have now passed mandates. That covers over 50 percent of the state’s population.
That does not include Papillion, whose health board recommended a mask mandate to the council Wednesday morning.
“In reality, I’m a little bit torn. I understand the personal liberty part of it, and the non-interference of government. I also understand from a medical perspective how busy we are with cover positive patients and how many hospitalizations there are,” says Bill Bowes, fire chief and member of the Papillion Board of Health.
Still, Governor Pete Ricketts said Wednesday he won’t implement a state mandate and that he’s anecdotally hearing about progress.
“I do see that people are using the rules, are more aware. I talked with businesses that do tell me, their business is slowing down, that’s part of the ramifications as people are staying home and that sort of thing,” says Ricketts.
Ricketts says he’ll continue to only pass further restrictions if hospital capacity goes up and the state goes into the ‘red zone’.
When asked if he expects that to happen, Ricketts said he had no idea.
“We have seen that our hospitalizations have stabilized over the last week or so, but I don’t have any crystal ball to tell me that is a plate and we’re going to go down, or a plateau and we’re going to go up.”
While initially cautioning cities to make sure they can legally pass mask mandates on their own, he said Wednesday the state will not pursue legal action against cities that do pass mandates.
Nebraska Teacher of the Year, Paul Timm, from Lyons-Decatur Northeast Schools also told of his own personal struggle recovering from COVID-19 during the Wednesday presser.
You can watch the briefing below in two separate videos or on our Facebook page.
Governor Pete Ricketts issued the following statement in observance of Thanksgiving Day, which will be celebrated November 26, 2020.
“Thanksgiving is a time for us to express gratitude to our Creator and to one another for the many blessings we have received. This year, we are especially grateful for our healthcare workers and military servicemen and women. Nurses, doctors, hospital staff, and public health leaders are on the front lines working long hours to help Nebraskans stay healthy during the pandemic. For our military members on deployment, we pray for a successful mission and safe return home. Their sacrifices keep our Republic free and allow us to enjoy the holidays in peace. We give thanks for these great Nebraskans and for many others who are working every day to make our state a better place.”
“Susanne, the kids, and I wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving weekend. As you celebrate, please keep family gatherings small and avoid crowded places, close contacts, and confined spaces. We want everyone to stay healthy as they enjoy the holiday.”