Lincoln, NE (August 11, 2020) Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird said today that confirmation will be sought to make Pat Lopez Lincoln and Lancaster County’s permanent Health Director. Lopez has been serving in an interim capacity since the death of the previous Director, Shavonna, Lausterer, in 2019.
The Lancaster County Board received a letter from the County Attorney this week questioning whether Lopez should continue in the position without confirmation. The Mayor called the letter “disappointing”, and added “if we can put this distraction to rest we will go ahead and move forward through a confirmation process. We have the support of the City Council and the County Board and the Board of Health for Pat Lopez. We’ve had it all along.” All three bodies need to approve the nomination before a new Health Director can be confirmed.
Her authority as an unconfirmed, interim director was questioned in the recent court filing on behalf of Madsen’s Bowling and Billiards. An Attorney representing Madsen’s argued that Lopez did not have the authority to issue an order to close Madsen’s because she had never been confirmed by the three bodies. Her authority to issue the order was upheld by a District Judge.
The Mayor’s Office announced earlier Tuesday that Madsen’s Bowling and Billiards had submitted a plan to conform to the latest Directed Health Measure regarding the wearing of masks and social distancing. The plan was approved by the Health Director, and Madsen’s was allowed to re-open. Lincoln Police enforced the closing of the business at the end of last week.
Health Director Pat Lopez emphasized, however, that Police and Health Department inspectors will be watching.
The health Department reported two more deaths from Covid-19 Tuesday. A man in his 70’s and a woman in her 80’s both passed away in local hospitals. 24 new cases of the virus were lab confirmed Tuesday.