Omaha City Council passes mask mandate

The Omaha City Council unanimously voted to pass a mask mandate at its regular meeting Tuesday afternoon. Omaha had been the only city in the nation’s top 100 largest cities without mandating people wear masks in certain public areas.

Effective immediately, masks or face coverings will be required by adults and children age 5 and older in all indoor areas — schools, businesses and churches. It also includes workplaces and private businesses. There are exceptions to the ordinance, which can be found here. The mandate is set to expire Tuesday, Sept. 15.

Nebraska Medicine was one of several prominent local employers that encouraged the council to adopt a mandate. A letter signed by company CEOs, including Nebraska Medicine’s Jim Linder, MD, said in part: “In our opinion, the recent debate on mask policy is about math, science, health and business.”

At Tuesday’s city council meeting, Mark Rupp, MD, chief of the UNMC Division of Infectious Diseases, told Omaha’s elected leaders what he has been saying at colleague forums for months — there is clear clinical evidence that masks work to slow the spread of COVID-19, and that the coronavirus does not choose its victims based on politics.

“I am dismayed that wearing a mask has somehow degenerated into a divisive issue that is causing anger and conflict — at a time when we are most in need of compassion and unity of purpose,” Dr. Rupp told the council. “Wearing a mask should not be a political statement; it is a simple, effective public health intervention to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

Dr. Rupp concluded his comments by urging the council “in the strongest possible terms” to pass an emergency mask mandate.

In an interview last week with KETV, Dr. Linder told reporter David Earl a mask mandate “is in the best interest of public safety and in the best interest of economic viability.”

The City of Omaha’s mask mandate reinforces the Nebraska Medicine and UNMC masking guidance that has been in place for months. Everyone in Nebraska Medicine facilities and on the UNMC campus are required to wear masks in common areas and should maintain a minimum six-foot distance from others when possible.

2 comments

  1. Sharon Hammer says:

    Thank you to UNMC for showing leadership in this area.

  2. Sydney Buckland says:

    Thank you for your testimony at the city council meeting. Having our health experts there in person speaks volumes to the community.

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