State of Nebraska rejects call for mask mandate in Douglas County

Posted at 8:31 PM, Aug 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-24 23:26:46-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) - The State of Nebraska rejected a call from Douglas County Health Director Dr. Lindsay Huse for a temporary mask mandate in Douglas County.

Huse made her case for the measure during Tuesday's Douglas County Board of Commissioners meeting but the state quickly shot it down.

"Under the current circumstances, imposing restrictions on every individual at a district level is not appropriate," Director of Public Health and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gary Anthone wrote in a letter to Huse. "The Department has not imposed or approved restrictions on individuals unless the specific individual posed an identifiable risk to others."

Anthone's letter indicated any enforcement action would be subject to a legal challenge.

Douglas County Health makes a face mask mandate case

"Should the Douglas County Health Department attempt to enforce a DHM without state approval, the Governor and DHHS will ask the Attorney General to challenge any enforcement action," Anthone wrote.

Huse's measure would have required masking until community transmission drops below the substantial category and until eight weeks past the time a COVID vaccine is approved for children between the ages of 5 and 11.

The Douglas County Health Department said transmission rates in the county are double the CDC’s standard for what is considered a high transmission rate. The rates are more than 15 times as high as rates in early June.

Anthone's letter to Huse read, "DHHS continues to work closely with stakeholders in the healthcare industry to ensure we continue to protect hospital capacity."

Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert has also come out against another mask mandate. The city of Omaha had a mask mandate in place from August 2020 until late May 2021.

Download our apps today for all of our latest coverage.

Get the latest news and weather delivered straight to your inbox.

Coronavirus Resources and Information

Johns Hopkins global coronavirus tracker