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Omaha working out details, legalities of mask mandate

Published: Jul. 23, 2020 at 8:18 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A legal mask mandate could go into effect as early as next week, Douglas County Health Director Adi Pour said Thursday during a news conference with the mayor.

Meanwhile, the city attorney is still working on legal aspects. Mayor Jean Stothert said Thursday that it’s not her preference, but she’s willing to do what it takes to protect people.

“I wish everyone would do it and be responsible and do it without a mandate,” Stothert said.

Stothert said her main concern is enforcement. If it’s a mandate, people will face consequences for not following the law — a tall order for police.

“No. 1, the police are busy. They have a lot of things to do,” Stothert said.

Pour said regardless, now is the time.

“I think this community needs to get cases under control if we want schools to reopen,” Pour said.

Pour said what we need is a community effort to stop the spread. Some community members agree.

“I think masks are totally appropriate. We need to do everything we can to make sure as many people are possible to stay safe and healthy,” Sarah Weidner said.

Before an order can come down, Dr. Pour wants to be certain she has the authority. City code gives her the authority in Omaha, but only the Governor can make a mandate for the county. Dr. Pour said she’s ready to act even if the governor doesn’t agree with a face mask mandate for Omaha.

“He was very clear, he does not believe in a mandate, that’s not what be believes for so I had a conversation with him sharing that I’m very concerned and I’m looking into all the options that are available in Omaha,” Pour said.

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