Regulated once again

Omaha’s mask mandate to be extended


Photo by Paige Fortney

The city of Omaha took a different approach to the mask regulations this past week. Instead of extending month-to-month, council members took it into their own hands and placed a three month mandate until further notice.

Paige Fortney, Staff Reporter

On November 10, Omaha’s City Council announced the extension of the mask mandate from 30 to 90 days. Due to the recent surge of COVID-19 cases in the area, the council held a meeting and decided that this new mask regulation will now end on February 23, 2021.

Omaha’s current mask mandate was originally set to expire on November 24 of this year, but Councilman Pete Festersen offered this different alteration. The vote between council members was 4-1, with member Aimee Melton being the only one opposed to the change. 

“This is going to be more than a 30-day challenge for us,” Festersen said at the meeting Tuesday according to “We do have the holidays coming up. It’s important to get through the holidays, and get kids through the holidays, and then back to school.”

According to The Omaha World Herald, The Douglas County Health Department reported nine additional deaths and 592 new cases of COVID-19 on November 10, bringing the county’s total (since the start of the pandemic in March) to 27,399. 

“It was clear the city needs to continue the mandate,” Fetersen added at the meeting. He also mentioned his concern for Douglas County’s recent virus numbers, including a 29.2% positivity rate for the week that ended Saturday. 

Despite the outbreak rising, many local schools have recently been sending students back for in-person learning, however, some districts are turning students to online learning for the upcoming Thanksgiving week and break. Due to an increase in cases for some of these metro schools, many have decided to keep the kids out for the week of Thanksgiving to allow current students to finish quarantining and for schools to be completely cleaned and sanitized. 

According to The Omaha World Herald, “The Papillion La Vista Community Schools, the Bellevue Public Schools, the Council Bluffs Community Schools, the Bennington Public Schools and the Springfield Platteview Community Schools joined the Millard Public Schools this week in closing their buildings for the holiday week.” Many districts have a variety of ways that they are handling this situation, but all are trying to provide the best possible way for students to continue learning.  District officials hope these changes will allow a safe learning environment for the kids and staff that attend in-person classes. 

Governor Pete Ricketts recently also just put new health measures into place, adding more social distancing within public spaces, the Lincoln Journal Star reported. With these regulations and the new lengthened mandate, officials hope to see a decrease in the city’s cases as time goes on. For now, individuals just need to do their part in practicing safety precautions.