Nebraska sues to block Omaha mask order

The state of Nebraska on Wednesday filed a lawsuit in an effort to stop the city of Omaha from enforcing a mask mandate, as the number of COVID-19 cases in the Cornhusker State continue to rise.

The lawsuit, filed by Attorney General Doug Peterson and Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services Director Gary Anthone, asks for an immediate hearing and demands that local officials are barred from enforcing the mandate.

Douglas County Health Director Lindsay Huse signed the mask mandate on Jan. 11, and it became effective after midnight the following day. It requires mask wearing in all premises open to the public for individuals five year or older, with some exceptions.

ADVERTISEMENT

Peterson and Anthone argue that the Omaha mask mandate is unlawful because Huse exceeded her authority in enforcing it, and because the statute is in violation of state law.

In a statement regarding the mandate, however, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert wrote that while she does not agree with Huse’s decision to enforce the mask mandate, the health director “has the authority to do so under City Code.”

The mandate is set to remain in effect until positive case counts in Omaha are below 200 people per 100,000 for a seven day total, and until hospital capacity is at or below 85 percent for seven consecutive days.

Huse told The Hill that her office does not have any comment on the lawsuit at this time.

On Tuesday, however, she did say lawyers for the city and county have given assurances that she is on “very solid legal ground” when it comes to signing the mask mandate, according to The Associated Press.

The lawsuit names Huse, Douglas County Board of Health President Chris Rodgers, Douglas County Board of Health Vice President John Wade and other officials with the Douglas County Board of Health, in addition to the Douglas County Board of Health, the city of Omaha, the Douglas County Sheriff’s office, the Omaha Police Department and its chief of police, Todd Schmaderer.

Nebraska reported 3,776 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, according to The New York Times