coronavirus updates

KU reported 142 new COVID-19 cases since Jan. 13. Douglas County has reported 846 new cases on Friday, for a positivity rate of 25.2%.

Douglas County is implementing an emergency mask mandate that will go into effect on Friday, Jan. 7. Individuals will be required to wear masks to enter indoor public spaces or to use public transportation.

Both business and individual mandates will be enforced, according to a Douglas County news release. The order will remain in effect until Wednesday, Jan. 12, unless it is otherwise rescinded or modified by the Douglas County Commission.

The mandate came in response to the increase in COVID cases in the past week. The ongoing impact of the delta variant and the arrival of the Omicron variant and the influenza season have created great challenges for healthcare providers in Douglas County. As of January 5, Douglas County has had an average positivity rate of 11.9% and 727 new cases, according to Douglas County Coronavirus Response and Recovery Hub.

Lawrence Memorial Hospital as well as other healthcare providers are facing staffing challenges, said Russ Johnson, president and CEO of LMH. Current emergency room wait times are longer. Patients are routinely held in the emergency department until a staffed bed is available.

“With this in mind, our physicians and hospital leadership support an indoor mask mandate,” Johnson said. “Masking will help slow the spread of COVID, influenza and other respiratory viruses in our community. It also serves to protect our team members, our single most valuable resource at LMH Health.”

Medical and scientific justifications, as well as exceptions to the mandate, are included in the Emergency Public Health Order issued on Jan. 5, 2022.