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Mask mandate in Lancaster County to end Thursday

Published: Dec. 21, 2021 at 1:40 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 21, 2021 at 4:25 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - After four months, the mask mandate in Lincoln is coming to an end on Thursday.

Lincoln Lancaster County Health Director Pat Lopez announced in a news conference Tuesday that the Directed Health Measure that includes an indoor mask mandate will not be extended, and will end on Thursday, Dec. 23.

The first mask mandate in Lancaster County was from July 20, 2020 to May 20, 2021. The second mask mandate was from Aug. 26, 2021 to Dec 23, 2021. This means, since July 20, 2020, Lancaster County has been in a mask mandate for 423/519 days or approximately 81.5% of the time. There was a 96-day stretch from May 21 to Aug. 25 without one.

Despite the end of the mask mandate, Lopez said that this should not be the end of masks in Lancaster County.

“This does not mean the pandemic is over, and it does not mean no more masks,” said Lopez. “Masks work to reduce the spread of COVID-19. We strongly recommend people to wear masks indoors, around other people from outside your household. We strongly recommend that business require their employees to wear masks. We strongly recommend mask wearing in schools. And we strongly recommend wearing masks at indoor sporting events, theaters, gatherings of groups indoors, including church and faith-based services. Many businesses and venues will continue to require masks to protect the most vulnerable and their employees, and we ask the public to respect that decision. They are in their rights to require this without a mandate from the health department.”

For now Lincoln Public Schools will continue to require face coverings for everyone inside all LPS buildings. They will however update their plans for the beginning of next semester on Wednesday. Any adjustments they make to the Safe Return to School Protocols will be communicated on the LPS website (lps.org/safereturn) and through an email to staff and families.”

The University of Nebraska is also taking time to discuss safety protocols and may announce more details soon.

The Lancaster-County COVID-19 Risk Dial remains in high orange (High Risk).

Local hospitals reported 126 COVID-19 patients, with 21 on ventilators. Unvaccinated Nebraskans are 10 times more likely to be hospitalized.

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