Omaha, Nebraska – Every state, county, city and area are doing their best into slowing down the spread of the Omicron variant as the number of new cases continues to increase across the country.
So is the case in Nebraska where the latest Covid-19 numbers are the highest since the start of the pandemic despite the decent vaccination rate the state achieved so far.
The latest effort in battling the Omicron in Omaha was announced on Tuesday by the Douglas County health director Dr. Lindsay Huse who enforces indoor mask mandate for the City of Omaha starting Wednesday.
However, as soon as Dr. Huse announced the indoor mask mandate, Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson sent a letter informing that he is considering to file a lawsuit against her since she doesn’t have the authority to enforce indoor mask mandate without prior approval from the state Department of Health and Human Services.
“You previously request DHHS approval for a similar mask mandate DHM on August 24, 2021, which DHHS denied. At that time, you were informed that should the Douglas County Board of Health attempt to enforce a DHM without state approval, the Attorney General may challenge that action,” Peterson’s letter says.
Dr. Huse announced her intention on Tuesday during the county commissioners’ meeting and she reportedly informed them she has the authority to implement the mandate according to the City Code Chapter 12, Sections 1, 21, 23, and 24.
After the meeting, Councilman Pete Festersen issued a statement issues a statement on behalf of the Omaha City Council informing the public that majority of the board members support Dr. Huse in her intention implementing the mask mandate.
“We believe Dr. Huse clearly has this authority, and we will continue to support the resources needed to increase testing and vaccination rates in our community,” according to a statement Festersen sent on behalf of the council.
In a tweet on Tuesday, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts once again confirmed he opposes mask mandates across the state of Nebraska and said he had asked Dr. Huse to once again look into the matter informing her that she doesn’t have the authority to implement the mask mandate.
It remains unclear if the mask mandate will actually work in practice since state officials, the governor himself and even the state’s attorney general are opposing Dr. Huse’s mask mandate threatening her with a lawsuit.