Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird and Pat Lopez, Interim Director of the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD), today said the new local COVID-19 Directed Health Measure (DHM) that will take effect Monday, May 11 will align with the State's DHM for Lancaster County. The first local DHM, which was originally set to expire May 6, was extended through Sunday, May 10 and will remain in effect until then.
These new measures will allow the following:
Mayor Gaylor Baird said the community is in a "high-risk" situation and urged the public to continue to follow safety guidelines despite the easing of limitations. She pointed to the increasing number of new daily cases in Lancaster County and the local positivity rate, both attributable in large part to an outbreak at the Crete Smithfield plant in neighboring Saline County. She said she wanted to extend the local DHM limitations to allow for better containment of the Crete outbreak, to increase testing and to give businesses more time to prepare. But, she said, it was important to avoid confusion between the state and the county DHMs and to prevent a legal battle.
"Our goal has always been to be working in sync with the state to protect the public," Mayor Gaylor Baird said. "Clear and unified guidance to the public is important for enabling people to navigate the pandemic safely; confusion about what's allowed by what level of government is not helpful to anyone."
Both the county and state DHMs that take effect Monday will extend the 10-person public gathering limitation, and Mayor Gaylor Baird urged the public to continue the physical distancing measures that have helped prevent the spread of the virus.
"The Directed Health Measures provide the foundation for our next steps forward together as a community, but we can also do more," she said. "We are asking our community members to be vigilant and to think not just of what you can do but also what you should do, taking into account local conditions. Now is the time for us all to exercise our personal and civic responsibility to our neighbors."
The Mayor said residents remain at risk of contracting the virus any time they are around others, and she encouraged them to continue to limit non-essential travel, to wear face coverings, to stay at least six feet from others and to wash their hands frequently.
The Mayor said she will soon announce the creation of an Economic Recovery Task Force to help businesses and other entities build the capacity and develop the plans they need to operate safely.
"This crisis is uniquely challenging because there are there are significant health, economic, and social considerations at stake, and balancing those considerations is not a black-and-white endeavor," she said. "It's challenging because we're dealing with a long time horizon for this virus. All we can do is make decisions based on our best available data, consistent with our values and best judgment, and consistent with our understanding of local conditions. We ask Lincoln residents and businesses to continue to be thoughtful, measured, and compassionate as we all navigate these challenging times."
More information on COVID-19 and the City's response is available at COVID19.lincoln.ne.gov. The website includes information on how those with symptoms of COVID-19 can be tested in Lincoln.