Mask Requirement Begins Thursday
Published on August 24, 2021
Risk Dial moves to mid-orange
To respond to an increase in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD) today issued a new local Directed Health Measure (DHM) that includes a mask requirement. The DHM will require all individuals ages two and older – regardless of vaccination status – to wear a mask when they are in an indoor space unless six feet of separation from others at all times can be achieved. The DHM requires business owners to ensure their patrons ages two and older wear masks any time they cannot maintain six feet of separation with non-household members.
The DHM goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, August 26 and continues until September 30, when it will be reevaluated.
The DHM includes exceptions. Masks are not required for the following:
- Individuals eating or drinking or seated to eat or drink
- Those exercising
- Those engaged in an occupation that prevents the wearing of a mask
- Those obtaining a service or purchasing goods or services that requires the temporary removal of the mask
- A person giving a speech, lecture, or broadcast to an audience as long as six feet of distance from other individuals is maintained
- Those individuals who cannot otherwise wear a mask because of a medical condition, a mental health condition, or a disability that prevents the wearing of masks
- Courts of law; meetings or sessions of the Nebraska Legislature; individuals accessing federal, state, county, or city government services; congregate living settings; group homes and residential drug and/or mental health treatment facilities; or shelters
For more information on the DHM, visit covid19.lincoln.ne.gov or call 402-441-6280. For general information on COVID-19, visit the website or call the Health Department hotline at 402-441-8006.
“To slow the increasing spread of the virus, it’s important that the mask requirement includes everyone, regardless of vaccination status, because of the aggressive and highly contagious Delta variant,” said Health Director Pat Lopez. “Wearing a mask is a commonsense measure that has a strong impact. As a community, we know masks work based on first-hand experience. The previous mask mandate contributed to a lower case rate and lower death rate in Lancaster County than other highly populated counties in the state.”
“This most recent surge in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths affects everyone – vaccinated and unvaccinated alike,” said Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird. “The actions we take as a community to slow the spread of this virus, guard our hospital capacity, protect those unable to be vaccinated, and keep our economy thriving matter. The next few weeks are critical.”
Law enforcement will not issue tickets to individuals for non-compliance. The City will continue to focus on education rather than enforcement. Those who observe suspected violations should not call the Police or Sheriff's 911 or non-emergency numbers. These situations should be reported to UPLNK either through the phone app or online at UPLNK.lincoln.ne.gov.
Lopez also announced today that the COVID-19 Risk Dial is moving from low-orange to mid-orange. The change indicates that the risk of the virus spreading and the impact on our community is high and continues to increase. On the color-coded dial, red represents the highest risk of COVID-19 spread, and green represents the lowest risk.
So far this month, 18 local residents have died from COVID-19. Fourteen were unvaccinated.
The position of the Risk Dial is based on multiple local indicators and information from the previous three weeks:
- The seven-day rolling average of new daily cases has been over 100 since August 17.
- The local positivity rate has increased to over 13%.
- Since the beginning of August, the daily average of COVID-19 patients hospitalized locally has more than doubled, from 43 to 78.
Lopez said everyone should continue to monitor their health and to be on the alert for fever, cough, shortness of breath and other symptoms of COVID-19. Even if you are vaccinated, you should separate yourself from others and get tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19.
Seventy percent of the Lancaster County population age 16 and older is now fully vaccinated. Nearly 25,000 county residents were vaccinated over the past eight weeks, an increase of nearly 70 percent since the beginning of July.