County leaders to consider extending health order that requires masks for kids ages 2-12 in schools and other public indoor spaces

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Douglas County leaders will consider extending a health order that requires children who are not yet eligible for vaccination to wear a mask while indoors.

As part of its meeting Wednesday, the Douglas County Commission will consider extending the current health order that requires children ages 2 to 12 to wear masks while in indoor public spaces, with some exceptions. Local health officers are recommending the order be extended based on the number of COVID-19 cases in the community, and they will go over recent data regarding cases, positivity rates and hospitalizations as part of the meeting, according to a memo to the commission.

As of Monday, there were 771 active cases and 17 people hospitalized at LMH Health who tested positive for the virus. Two possible dates for the expiration of the health order are being proposed — either Dec. 1 or Dec. 22. The later date would extend the order through the end of the semester.

The commission initially expressed interest in a countywide mask requirement for children at the beginning of the school year amid concerns that not all school districts were requiring masks when the community was seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases from the more contagious Delta variant. As the Journal-World reported, the commission voted unanimously to approve the initial health order on Aug. 18 after hearing four hours of public comment that included jeering and interruptions from a largely maskless crowd at the Douglas County Courthouse. Other members of the public made their comments to the commission online via Zoom, and many of those comments were in favor of some kind of mask requirement for children who cannot be vaccinated.

As before, there are various exceptions to the proposed order, including youth with a medical condition, mental health condition or disability that prevents them from wearing a face covering; youth who are deaf or hard of hearing, or communicating with a person who is deaf or hard of hearing; youth engaged in religious services, ceremonies or activities; and youth who are seated at a restaurant or other establishment that offers food or beverage service, while they are eating or drinking.

The Douglas County Commission will convene at 4 p.m. Wednesday for a study session and at 5:30 p.m. for its regular agenda at the county courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St. Residents can participate in the meeting in person, virtually or via phone, and more information about those options is available at


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