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Hastings City Council to vote on future of mask policy

The Hastings City Council discussed if they should vote to extend the mask policy or let it...
The Hastings City Council discussed if they should vote to extend the mask policy or let it expire next week.(Rogelio V. Solis | AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Published: Feb. 18, 2021 at 8:36 PM CST
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - The Hastings City Council discussed if they should vote to extend the mask policy or let it expire next week.

At their Thursday work session, the council heard from the South Heartland District Health Department and UNMC about the latest trends in cases.

According to the SHDHD, the test positive and hospitalization rates have been dropping since the latest spike in November when the mask policy was put in place. Executive Director Michele Bever said it’s promising to see those numbers, but it still isn’t as low as they’d want it.

The district is also a long way from herd immunity through the vaccine. It’ll take about 70% of the district to be vaccinated and right now it is only about 11% who have gotten their first dose.

“So that’s working but we’re not to low community spread,” Bever said. “We haven’t landed there and maintained that low community spread yet and with the threats of some of the variants and other things we feel it’s important to maintain that.”

When the policy was enacted, it was in partnership with Kearney and Grand Island. GI voted to let the policy expire at their last meeting. Ptak said the discussions with other health departments and city leaders are ongoing.

“They were not sure what their councils were going to do either,” Ptak said. “Obviously all of the trends are positive right now, but we had that happen before and so the question becomes is, do we want to let up when we don’t have as many vaccinations out there as we hoped to have at this point.”

The policy is set to expire on Tuesday Feb. 23 and the council will make the final vote at the meeting on Monday night. Hastings Mayor Corey Stutte tells Local4 the city will be looking at a proposed extension of the mask policy that would be based on metrics, not time.

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