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COVID-19 cases are going up in Douglas County, experts say don’t let up on wearing masks

Published: Sep. 30, 2020 at 5:45 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - COVID-19 cases are up across the state of Nebraska. Experts say Douglas County now mirrors the state. Now, many are questioning if masks work.

“It is really difficult to look back and say is it working or not because we don’t have that data. I think what I would tell you is we do not know what would happen, where the numbers would be if we didn’t have the mask mandate,” says Dr. Adi Pour, Douglas County Director of Health.

For the past four days in a row, there’s been anywhere from 100 to 150 new cases of COVID-19 in Douglas County.

Experts say there’s a reason the numbers are going up, even though there’s a mask ordinance.

They say they went up after schools and business started to open back up.

The labor day holiday weekend is another reason why the cases are up.

“Schools are open, universities are open and getting more people to wear masks during that time is important and you know, people might be having difficulties with that and also we just had our labor day weekend,” says Dr. Renuga Vivekanandan, Infectious Disease Specialist at CHI Health.

Dr. Pour says now is not the time to let up on wearing masks when out in public.

“If people are wearing masks in this community, are wearing them properly and taking all of the other precautions then I would need to say this is the only thing we have at this time so I would say yes, it has to be working,” says Dr. Pour.

“I don’t want anybody to get the idea that because we’ve seen these rates increase in the Omaha area that this means that masks are not working. In fact, after the mask mandate was put in place we did see a decrease in the percentage of positive tests and somewhat of a decrease in the number of cases that were being defined,” says Dr. Mark Rupp, Chief of Infectious Diseases at UNMC.

Are people wearing masks when out in public places?

Mike Fratt is the general manager at Homer’s.

The store is known for the vinyl records they sell.

The typical experience is very hands-on.

Something Fratt says changed once they were able to reopen a few months ago.

“Customers have been very cooperative about wearing a mask. We also ask that they sanitize their hands since this is such a touchy environment and that makes it a safe environment for customers and for the customers, which is very important. and it protects the business,” says Mike Fratt, GM of Homer’s.

Homer’s is located in the heart of the Old Market.

It’s typically busy with people walking through the area.

Fratt says customers have been doing a good job at adhering to rules like inside.

Outside, he says he notices people not being as strict when out and about in the Old Market.

“It’s a mixture of people in masks and not in masks. I mean if they’re social distancing then that’s ok,” says Fratt.

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