As COVID cases spike, Douglas County health director calls for mask mandate

(Douglas County, NE) -- Citing a spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, especially those caused by the Delta variant, Douglas County's Health Director is asking the state to approve a directed health measure that would require masks in public again temporarily.

On Tuesday, Dr. Lindsay Huse told the Douglas County Board of Commissioners that, with the backing of the county Board of Health, she had sent the request to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. "This measure would require masking for all persons over age of five in indoor, public settings, with some exclusions, until two benchmarks are met." Huse says those benchmarks are: COVID-19 indicators falling below “substantial” on the risk dial, in line with federal guidance; and until eight weeks after COVID-19 vaccine approval for children ages 5-11. The county is currently at “high” transmission risk, above that “substantial" threshold.

Dr. Huse says that local data especially shows a rise in cases among school-aged children. “Until they can get vaccinated, we need to have other measures to limit transmission."

Huse says she has spoken with several exhausted and alarmed local healthcare providers who have relayed stories about “the 50 or so patients that line the hallways of emergency rooms every day. And the nurses who are broken from a year and a half of witnessing serious sickness and death who are now still showing up, totally broken, and caring for the public even though the public doesn’t even care anymore.”

Huse says that kids and families deserve protection, and implementing a mask mandate in the county, until transmission risk subsides, will keep children in schools.

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