Lancaster County Allowing Mask Mandate to Expire at the End of December

Dec. 21, 2021, 5 p.m. ·

Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Director Pat Lopez (Zoom screenshot)
Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Director Pat Lopez (Zoom screenshot)

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Despite rising COVID-19 hospitalizations, the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department will not extend its mask mandate.

Health Director Pat Lopez said the seven-day rolling average of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the county rose from 98 in mid-November to 120 on December 18. The county has also recorded its first case of the omicron variant, and expects to see more cases after holiday gatherings.

Nevertheless, Lopez said, the current mask mandate, in place since August, will be allowed to expire one minute before midnight on Thursday. The mandate had been extended Nov. 23, with officials saying at the time the extension was to allow more time for people to get vaccinated and especially for parents and guardians to get their children vaccinated. Lopez said allowing the mandate to expire doesn’t mean masks will go away.

“We strongly recommend people continue to wear masks indoors around other people from outside your household," Lopez said. "We strongly recommend that businesses 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."

Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird said the best thing people can do to protect themselves and others against the omicron variant is to get a vaccine booster shot.