WAVERLY – Because COVID-19 cases, positivity rate and hospitalizations remain at high levels, local regulations requiring the wearing of masks in public places in Lancaster County has been extended another month, according to the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD).
The LLCHD announced Oct. 26 that the local Directed Health Measure (DHM) that was set to expire Oct. 28 has been extended through 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 24.
The mask requirement will affect fans from outside of Lancaster County who attend the State Volleyball Championships this week in Lincoln.
The DHM, which took effect Aug. 26 in response to the Delta variant appearing in the state. It requires all individuals ages two and older must wear a mask indoors, whether they have been vaccinated or not.
There are exceptions. For example, individuals who are eating or drinking while seated, exercising or working in a job that prevents wearing a mask. Also if you are obtaining services or buying items that require temporary removal of the mask, that is permitted. Persons who are giving a speech, lecture or broadcast can take off their mask as long as the audience is six feet away.
If a person has a medical condition, a mental health condition or a disability that prevents them from wearing a mask, they are also exempt.
People participating in a court hearing, members of the Nebraska Legislature that are meeting or in session and individuals accessing federal or state government services are also allowed to remove their masks.
Masks are also not required if a person resides in a congregate living setting, group home or residential drug and/or mental health treatment facility or a shelter.
Despite the extension of the DHM, there was good news on the pandemic front. Health Director Pat Lopez said Lancaster County reached its initial goal of having 75% of residents ages 16 and over are fully vaccinated on Oct. 26.
Lopez said the next focus for the Health Department is to fully vaccinate 75% of all Lancaster County residents. Currently about 60% of the 319,000 residents in the county are fully vaccinated.
“Since the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine arrived in mid-December of last year, we’ve seen a tremendous response from our community and our partners,” Lopez said. “Achieving this milestone gives us reassurance that we’ve been able to reach and help protect a significant portion of our population through vaccination.”
The COVID-19 Risk Dial remains in elevated yellow for the third consecutive week. This means that the risk of the virus spreading and the impact on the community is moderate. On the color-coded dial, red represents the highest risk of COVID-19 spread, and green represents the lowest risk.
The position of the Risk Dial is based on multiple local indicators and information from the previous three weeks.
- The seven-day rolling average of new daily cases has leveled off at about 80 cases a day for the first three weeks of October. Lopez said LLCHD would like to see a sustained average of 40 to 45 cases a day.
- The community positivity rate has remained in the 9% to 10% range for the past 10 weeks. Lopez said a rate down in the 5% to 7% range would indicate that the risk of transmission is reduced.
- The seven-day rolling average of hospitalizations has been below 100 patients since October 6, but Lopez said that number is still too high and local hospital capacity remains a serious concern for the entire community.
- Eighteen local residents have died from COVID-19 in October. Ten were unvaccinated.
For general information on COVID-19, visit covid19.lincoln.ne.gov or call the Health Department hotline at 402-441-8006.
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