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State AG may sue to block planned mask mandate in Omaha; issues letter to health director

Nebraska AG Doug Peterson.PNG
Posted at 7:21 PM, Jan 11, 2022

OMAHA, Neb. (AP & KMTV) — Health officials want to impose a new mask mandate in Omaha to slow the spread of COVID-19 as surging virus cases continue to strain hospital capacity, but the state said it would sue to block the rule if it is imposed Wednesday as planned.

SEE MORE: Health Director institutes mask mandate: 'I can't stand by and not do everything that we can'

Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson issued a letter to Douglas County Health Director Dr. Lindsay Huse saying that she does not have the authority to enact a masking requirement. The letter says that the state will pursue legal action to keep the mandate from being enforced.

Huse announced the new temporary mandate Tuesday despite the objections of Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert and Gov. Pete Ricketts to help give hospitals the “breathing room they need.”

Phil Rooney, health department spokesperson said the mask mandate will go into effect at midnight because the state has not yet filed a suit.

The state said the number of people hospitalized with the virus continues to grow this week and hit 635 on Monday.

Hospital officials have said they worry that number will soar in the next couple of weeks because of the spread of the highly contagious omicron variant.

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