The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department will require masks when indoors starting this Thursday.
The mandate comes as local COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are surging. Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird said the community needs to wear masks for a number of reasons.
“We need you to mask up to help ensure there’s an ICU bed available, if you or someone you love suffers a heart attack or gets in a car accident,” she said. “We need you to mask up to help protect our children who are not yet eligible for the vaccine.”
CHI Health St. Elizabeth President Derek Vance added a mask mandate can also help give healthcare workers a needed break.
If we continue to increase at the current rate with COVID patients in our hospitals, we won’t have beds for trauma patients, surgical patients, cardiac patients, so many other resources that require our hospital,” he said.
The Lincoln-Lancaster Health Department said 18 have died of COVID-19 this month, prompting officials to move the county’s risk dial to the orange. The department is also encouraging mask-wearing outdoors.
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and Lincoln Public Schools are requiring masks indoors, which all take effect Wednesday. UNL and Lancaster County’s mask requirements are in effect until September 30.