Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts continues to reject the idea of a statewide mask mandate even as more Nebraska cities are passing mask mandates.
Kearney and Beatrice passed mask requirements Tuesday to join Lincoln and Omaha as Nebraska cities that require citizens to wear masks with Grand Island and Hastings among others also considering mask rules
Ricketts has maintained only Lincoln and Omaha have the authority to issue such mandates, but State Senator Justin Wayne of Omaha earlier this week cited a state law giving all cities broader powers in dealing with contagious diseases.
Ricketts said on his Tuesday coronavirus update that he questioned Wayne’s interpretation and urged any city considering a mandate to have it studied carefully.
League of Nebraska Municipalities executive director Lynn Rex told NET News that her staff has studied the law and believes Wayne is right.
Rex said having the authority doesn’t mean cities will use it – citing factors that include whether a given city has consistently used that power and whether they feel they have the law enforcement capacity to enforce a mask mandate.
Meanwhile, Nebraska reported 2,812 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday against only 443 recoveries as the number of active cases topped 50,000 at 50,754 – a new record.
There were 10 more COVID-19 deaths, brining that tally to 826 along with 106,617 total confirmed cases and 55,037 recoveries
The number of coronavirus patients needing hospitalization dropped by 17 to 961 while the percentage of available ICU beds rose a point to 22%. Availability of hospital beds stayed at 28% and ventilator availability is down to 67%.