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Grand Island City Council to vote on mask mandate

Grand Island Mayor Roger Steele Thursday asked the community to support a mask requirement.
Grand Island Mayor Roger Steele Thursday asked the community to support a mask requirement.(Diamond Nunnally, KSNB)
Published: Nov. 19, 2020 at 4:11 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 19, 2020 at 6:06 PM CST
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - Citing Governor Ricketts’ rejection of repeated requests for a mask policy, the Central District Health Department threw its support behind a proposed mask mandate for the city of Grand Island.

Mayor Roger Steele set a special city council meeting for Monday Nov. 23 at 7:00 PM. A city official confirmed that the council would be voting on the mask mandate.

In a letter sent Tuesday to Steele, Central District Executive Director Teresa Anderson wrote, “Our repeated requests to the Governor’s office for a universal mask policy have been rejected, with our most recent request rejected on Sunday, November 8. We are now at critical juncture. It is clear that if we do not act locally and swiftly now, we will continue with rampant uncontrolled spread of COVID-19.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Governor Ricketts has consistently opposed mask mandates. At a press conference Tuesday, he said, “I don’t think mask mandates are appropriate, I think that they breed resistance.”

During a COVID-19 briefing Thursday, Anderson said the combined infection rate in Hall, Hamilton and Merrick counties was higher this month than it was at the worst point of the pandemic in April. Anderson said 55 percent of the hospital patients in the district have COVID.

Anderson also lamented the pressure the virus has put on school and hospital staff. For example, Anderson said that when a daycare closes, a school teacher unable to find replacement daycare will have to miss work, which in turn puts pressure on the school’s ability to find substitute teachers. She said COVID-19 infections have a “cumulative effect.”

Steele called on Grand Island area residents Thursday to support the proposed mask mandate, saying that it was critical to the city’s effort to provide “essential city services and access to the hospital if you need emergency care.”

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