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Grand Island City Council passes mask mandate

A mask mandate is on the way for Grand Island
A mask mandate is on the way for Grand Island(Alicia Naspretto)
Published: Nov. 24, 2020 at 2:42 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 24, 2020 at 6:54 PM CST
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - The Grand Island City Council passed an emergency mask requirement ordinance after a Tuesday night vote.

After hearing from the Central District Health Department Director, Grand Island police chief, a local doctor and other community leaders earlier in the day, the GI Board of Health voted to recommend the city council pass the new mask mandate at its meeting.

The council vote passed for the mandate, but not unanimously. It was an 8 to 2 vote, with Jeremy Jones and Justin Scott voting against it.

“We are at a point right now where we need to take action,” CDHD Director Teresa Anderson said. “If we don’t take action now, our experts at University of Nebraska Med Center tell us that we will see a very sharp and continued increase. We’ve got to get that level down. If we don’t we are going to overburden our healthcare system completely.”

“We are at the point right now where we are already at capacity or near capacity with our local hospitals,” local doctor Dr. Rebecca Steinke said. “That is burdening not only the staff to care for COVID patients, but also to care for other patients who come in.”

They said the masks would help slow the spread of COVID-19 in Grand Island, which could lessen that burden on local medical staff.

At that hearing, 11 spoke out against the mandate and encouraged the city council to vote against it. Ten speakers, including Grand Island Fire and Police Departments and several local doctors, were in favor.

In all of the Tri-Cities now, anyone over five years old will be required to wear a face mask while at public indoor locations with a few exceptions.

Exceptions include:

- People sitting in an office with a plastic barrier between them and their visitors

- Workers alone in an office or vehicle

- Locations where there is room to social distance with at least six feet between people

- People who are exercising or swimming

- Athletes only while playing a sport

- People performing religious ceremonies

- When communicating with someone who is deaf or hard of hearing

The mandate will go into effect three days after passing and last until Feb. 23.

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