Omaha chamber backs mask mandate, citing $3.2B in regional economic benefits | Politics & Government

In a letter to the City Council, Chamber President and CEO David Brown said the chamber supports the continued mandatory mask requirement “to protect the essential workers in our city, to protect our educators and to protect each other.”

The chamber supported a mask mandate previously in a letter to Douglas County Health Director Adi Pour. But Friday’s letter adds further civic clout to Omaha’s continued masking regulation.

During Tuesday’s public hearing before the City Council, mask opponents suggested Omaha’s mask mandate is hurting business in the city.

But Brown cited a significant economic benefit to masks, saying “the simple act of wearing a cloth face covering” could save the regional economy $3.2 billion, based on a national Goldman Sachs study on mandatory masks.

In addition to protecting students and educators, Brown said masks help businesses protect their employees and customers while keeping their doors open and operations intact.

Palermo said he estimates he’s received 300 emails about masks since Tuesday’s meeting, and about three-fourths of those supported the mandate.

Palermo said he wants people to know the city will not keep the mandate in place forever. In the short term, Palermo said he wants to see how cases look after the Omaha Public Schools returns to in-person learning.

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