Omaha City Council considers extending mask mandate

Posted at 6:27 PM, Feb 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-02 23:12:13-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The Omaha City Council will be voting on whether or not to extend the city's mask mandate at their next meeting. But Tuesday afternoon, they spent time listening to the community about its thoughts on the extension.

"We can't hear you" and "take your mask off" are just a few phrases heard from the crowd as Dr. Adi Pour, the Douglas County Health Director, spoke to the council on Tuesday.

Laughter and outbursts like "that's disgusting" echoed when Dr. Ali Khan, Dean of UNMC's College of Public Health, told the council that wearing a mask is a patriotic duty while showing a photo of President Joe Biden in a mask.

This type of behavior has become common at the Omaha City Council Chambers over the past year.

A crowd of both opponents and proponents was drawn to the council chambers Tuesday to give their thoughts on a resolution that would extend Omaha's mask mandate from ending on Feb. 23 to ending on May 25.

Among those speaking in favor was Dr. Pour who says Omaha is just starting to distribute vaccines for the general population as new strands of the virus appear.

“The emergent of these new variants underscore that it remains critical to continue to mitigation efforts that we know work to slow the spread of coronavirus," Pour told the council.

Among those in opposition were some who also donned the title doctor when introducing themselves: chiropractors and dentists who accused council members and Pour of over exaggerating the severity of COVID.

Others took a gentler approach.

“I urge this council to revise the current mandate and have it reflect our personal responsibility and choice," asked one woman.

As the crowd left the room following public comments, Councilmember Ben Gray spoke in Dr. Pour’s defense and reminded the crowd of the lives that have been lost to this virus.

“While many of you have not seen any individual with COVID-19 or you don’t know any, I’ve been to several funerals," Gray said. "Several funerals, more than a few. Several of them are friends of mine and I have watched them suffer."

The council is set to vote on this extension at their next meeting.

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