Lincoln, NE (March 15, 2021) The Lincoln City Council voted “no” Monday on a resolution that would have ended the locally declared State of Emergency over Covid-19. The resolution, introduced by Council member Roy Christensen, failed on a 6-1 vote. Only Christensen voted in favor.
In a lengthy public hearing prior to the vote, citizens and medical professionals expressed a wide range of opinions.
Emergency Management Director Jim Davidsaver said the State of Emergency is still needed, in his opinion, because of all the risks and questions over the rapidly spreading variants and mutations of the virus. He also said the declared emergency gives the City greater leverage in applying for Federal and State funding.
Cinnamon Docken told the Council that keeping the declaration in place is really about keeping our options open. “It’s about protecting our community and insuring that we have the resources we need.”
Samuel Lyon, one of the organizers of a recent petition to recall the mayor over the mask mandate, said no one has defined the goal that will signal the end of the emergency.
Robert Ford of Lincoln said the emergency was never about health, “but about power, money and control. At no time in the past year has there been a real public health emergency.”
Dr. Rachel Brock, the head of Nephrology at Bryan Health urged the council to keep the emergency declaration in place. “We’re not done here”, she said. “We’re not safe yet. This is still an emergency.”
Council Member Tammy Ward said she couldn’t ignore the medical testimony. “I don’t know how anybody cannot respond when they hear a doctor talk about a ‘wall of love’ at a person’s end of life.”
Council member Sondra Washington agreed that the resolution is important for financial reasons. “Having worked in the Federal Government, and having worked with FEMA, I know that it mattered that the emergency declaration was in place in order to receive Federal funds.”
Council member Jayne Raybould took issue with Christensen’s introduction of the resolution in the first place, calling it “irresponsible” and accusing him of pandering to the loudest irrational voices in the community. “You, sir, demonstrated a lack of leadership when you introduced this dissolution of the emergency declaration. A lack of research and deliberate ignorance from someone who has served the longest on the City Council.”
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