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Mask mandates extended in Omaha, Lincoln even as cases fall

February 9, 2022 GMT

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Mask mandates have been extended in Nebraska’s two largest cities because virus cases and hospitalizations remain higher than health officials want to see even though they are falling.

Omaha officials announced their decision Wednesday to extend their mandate a week a day after Lancaster County officials said their mandate would continue through Feb. 25.

Douglas County Health Director Lindsay Huse said the number of new COVID-19 cases remains too high to drop the indoor mask mandate When she announced the mandate last month, Huse said the seven-day total of new cases per 100,000 people in Omaha would need to fall below 200 and hospitals would need to be less than 85% full for a week before the rule would be lifted.

Over the past week, 344.6 cases per 100,000 people have been reported and Omaha hospitals have only been at or below 85% full for four days in a row.


Statewide, the seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Nebraska fell dramatically over the past two weeks, going from 4,088.57 new cases per day on Jan. 24 to 1,036.14 new cases per day on Monday.

The number of people hospitalized with the virus in the state dipped below 600 this week for the first time since early January and it hit 585 Tuesday. That number has steadily declined since peaking at 767 on Jan. 28 but hospitals remain stressed and the number of patients is declining slowly.

“We’re all anxious to put this surge behind us, but right now, our hospitals still need our help to relieve some of the pressure they continue to experience,” Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Director Pat Lopez said. “It’s important not to remove preventative measures too soon only to lose the ground we’ve gained.”

Also Wednesday, a judge set a June 16 trial date for the state’s lawsuit challenging Omaha’s mask mandate. Last month, the judge refused to block the mandate while the case moves forward because she said it appears that city code gives the health director the power to impose it without getting state approval.