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GI council to vote on mask mandate

Published: Nov. 16, 2020 at 3:49 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 16, 2020 at 4:39 PM CST
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - Grand Island may be about a week away from a requirement that everyone wear a mask.

During a Monday afternoon speech from city hall, Mayor Roger Steele said he expects to get a recommendation Tuesday from the Central District Health Department that masks be required. Steele said he would put a mask requirement on the city council agenda for next Tuesday, November 24.

During a press conference Monday morning, Governor Pete Ricketts cast doubt on the ability of an individual city to enact its own mask mandate.

During his speech, Steele said “Under Nebraska statute section 16-246, a city of the first class like Grand Island may make ordinances, rules and regulations for protecting the public health and welfare of the citizens. I will ask the city council to exercise its authority under Nebraska law to adopt an indoor mask policy.”

Steele also cited information from the Central District Health Department indicating that 56 percent of patients at CHI Health St. Francis had COVID. He also said the hospitals had a limited number of ICU beds.

"This is an emergency situation for Grand Island,” Steele said. “I want to protect the city’s ability to maintain life-saving police, fire and ambulance protection. I do not want our public safety manpower to diminish because our rates of COVID-19 infection are climbing at a rapid pace.”

Steele urged Grand Island residents to wear masks before the city council vote next week. He also repeated his request that residents avoid close contact, stay home unless it’s essential and avoid family gatherings, even during the holidays.

Earlier Monday, Kearney city officials said the council would meet in special session Tuesday to vote on a mask mandate for Kearney residents.

The Hastings city council was also expected to discuss a mask requirement at its work session Monday night.

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