OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) - The Douglas County Board of Health unanimously passed a mask mandate following a meeting on Monday.
It requires people above the age of five to wear a mask while indoors unless the individual maintains at least six feet of separation from anyone who is not in their household.
The mandate is expected to go into effect in the city of Omaha on Monday, August 3 and expire at the end of August.
According to Chris Rodgers, the chair of the Douglas County Board of Health, the mandate will likely mirror the one in place in Lincoln.
The process to bring the mandate to the rest of Douglas County would take some more time.
"We are trying to see what regulations we can put in place for the rest of the county," says Dr. Pour.
We saw over a dozen people speak out AGAINST a mask mandate at the Douglas County Boards of Health Monday.— Jon Kipper (@jonnykip21) July 27, 2020
Here's a few soundbites from some of those folks: pic.twitter.com/HmjpYXt4B2
County Health Director Dr. Adi Pour says over the last three weeks, coronavirus cases have constantly increased in the area.
She said there were 940 cases last week, up from 625 the week before and 558 the week before that.
Pour said she believes a mandate would be helpful to slow the spread.
The debate grew heated at times. With many in the audience vocally against a mandate, for a variety of reasons including: the effectiveness of masks, how it would be enforced, that people instead need to build up immunities and that it was an invasion of their personal liberties.
“We as Americans have enough sense, most of us anyway, to wear a mask when it needed, and not to wear one. But please don’t mandate this, don’t take away our freedoms," says Jean Wittard.
Less people spoke up for a mandate, but here is a few, plus Chair of the board, Chris Rodgers, countering some of the people against the mandate: pic.twitter.com/pckkgkDMnI— Jon Kipper (@jonnykip21) July 27, 2020
Others, like Jacquelyn Fernandez, who works as a nurse, says it's necessary.
“I’ve been working at the hospital for four years and I’ve never seen us, so busy, so understaffed and juts not having the resources to take care of these patients," says Fernandez."
Taylor Gage, spokesperson for Gov. Pete Ricketts, who has been against mandates, says, "the Governor’s Office is reviewing whether they have the authority to do this."
Watch Monday's meeting below.