Omaha, Nebraska – Starting Wednesday, Omaha residents won’t be mandated to wear face masks as Douglas County Health Director announced the mask mandate is officially lifted.
As we already reported multiple times since the start of the year, Douglas County Health Department Director Dr. Lindsay Huse enforced mask mandate within the Omaha city limits on January 12.
Since her mask mandate announcement, she has been in constant legal battle with the Nebraska governor and the state’s attorney general whether she had the authority to implement mask mandate without prior approval by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.
“New cases and hospital capacity have reached a satisfactory level as set out in the order,” Health Director Dr. Lindsay Huse said in a Wednesday morning news release.
From a technical perspective, Dr. Huse didn’t lift the mask mandate on her own, but it expired since it was in place until Wednesday, Feb. 16.
Dr. Huse had previously set 200 cases per 100,000 population as the goal. As of Wednesday, that number was at 195.5 cases per 100,000 people.
The second stipulation for ending the mask mandate was for local hospital capacity to remain at or below 85% for a week, which it has been for the previous three days, according to the health department’s COVID-19 dashboard.
In addition to lifting the Omaha mask mandate, several Nebraska school districts also announced they are lifting mask mandates in schools starting Wednesday.
Starting Wednesday, the face mask mandate moves to optional in Elkhorn Public Schools, Millard Public Schools, and Westside Community Schools.
For Westside Community Schools students, teachers and administrative staff, this decision means that all of them will have the opportunity to choose whether they will wear face masks for the first time in the new year.
While announcing the lifting of the mask mandate, Millard Public Schools officials informed the parents to keep symptomatic students at home and to have conversations with their doctors about getting vaccinated.
In Omaha schools, the mask mandate remains in place as previously announced. The mask mandate was introduced at the beginning of the 2021/2022 school year.
“Our staff monitors health conditions in our schools and community each day. We are heartened to see conditions improving, compared to December and January. As community guidance and health conditions allow us to update our protocols, we will communicate directly with our staff and families,” Omaha Public Schools officials said in an announcement.