City council votes to end Lincoln’s state of emergency for COVID
LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – More and more evidence is showing that the coronavirus pandemic is slowing down.
And on Monday, the Lincoln City Council voted 7-0 to end the city’s state of emergency for COVID-19.
“Today marks a change in the COVID-19 emergency, at least from a declared state of emergency, for the City of Lincoln,” Councilman Tom Beckius said.
In the first week of May, there were 62 cases reported in Lancaster County and one COVID-related death.
“We know that we still have COVID occurring in our community and around the world, but we are at a different place and time,” Health Director Pat Lopez said. “We’re going to continue to be able to offer vaccines to residents in the community, testing and also medication should they need them.”
Lincoln’s COVID-19 risk dial has been in the green, the lowest level, for almost a month.
On April 11, the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department announced that the dial was moving to green for the first time since May 2022.
But the risk dial has now served its purpose.
“The risk dial will be removed from the website,” Lopez said. “If we need to, if we have a large outbreak or something changes in the community, we can reinstitute that.”
In public comment, some said that in the dark times of the pandemic, the actions taken were necessary.
“It was a very challenging time, and there was a lot of hateful language that came out of that and negativity,” resident Roy Helm said. “It was a blemish to our city when people were trying to do the right thing. As it was said, I think our community is healthier for the actions that were taken.”
Others were not so quick to agree.
“The way that the health department handled that in this city was not under the approval of many people in the United States or in Lincoln, Nebraska,” resident Jane Kinsey said.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization says the global emergency is over but warns that the virus is here to stay.
Ending the pandemic emergency puts the city in line with Congress, which recently voted to end the nationwide emergency response.
President Joe Biden signed the resolution, which will take effect on Thursday.
It was the last council meeting for members Richard Meginnis and Michelle Suarez.
Meginnis was elected in 2019. Council Chair Tammy Ward thanked him for his guidance at the height of the pandemic.
Suarez, the first Latina on the council, was appointed in January to fill the seat left vacant when Jane Raybould was elected to the Legislature.