7 of Nebraska’s 10 largest cities have local mask mandates
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Seven of Nebraska’s 10 largest cities have imposed mask mandates to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus, though Gov. Pete Ricketts has resisted ordering them to be worn throughout the state.
The cities issued the orders as the number of virus cases, hospitalizations and deaths surged over the last month.
The local mandates mean more than half of Nebraska’s 1.95 million people live in communities that require masks to be worn in indoor public settings, according to the Omaha World-Herald.
Most cities with mandates are in eastern and central Nebraska, including Omaha, Lincoln, Grand Island, Kearney, Norfolk, Columbus and Hastings.
City officials in the more conservative western Nebraska have said they were encouraging people to wear masks but not requiring it, which is the approach Ricketts has taken. Among those cities are North Platte, Scottsbluff, Gering and Alliance.
Ricketts, a Republican, has repeatedly refused to issue a statewide mandate despite pleas from many of the state’s public health officials. Ricketts said he doesn’t think a statewide mandate is appropriate because it would create resentment and some people would resist it, although he noted that the state has enacted a mask requirement for certain indoor businesses.
Nebraska reported 2,876 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, a decline from the record daily highs earlier this month but still a much larger number than usual. The number of daily active hospitalizations dropped slightly, to 931, according to the state’s online tracking portal.
Nebraska has had 122,952 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 982 deaths from the disease since the pandemic began.