Though 33 states now have face mask mandates, Gov. Pete Ricketts says his state of Nebraska will not be joining them. On Monday, Ricketts doubled down on his conviction that a statewide mask mandate would be too “heavy-handed.” “I don’t want to make it a crime,” he said at a press conference. Ricketts’s resistance comes as his office is challenging mask ordinances in Lincoln and Lancaster County that have already gone into effect. Teachers’ unions, meanwhile, have called his failure to pass a statewide mask order a “dereliction of duty.” “I would die for my students. Please don’t make me,” read a teacher’s sign at a recent protest across from Ricketts’s office. Though the science on the effectiveness of masks for reducing the spread of the coronavirus is more established now than it was early in the pandemic, mandatory masking is still a new and contentious idea. Public health experts and unions are calling for a national mandate to protect the most vulnerable, but President Donald Trump has said he opposes it, telling CNN, “No, I want people to have a certain freedom, and I don’t believe in that, no.” Popular support for mask-wearing is growing: A Hill-HarrisX poll conducted from July 26-27 found that 82 percent of Americans would support a national mask mandate. Yet mask-wearing has also been correlated with partisan identity, and many Americans still refuse to wear them in indoor public settings such as grocery stores, even in states and cities where mandates are in place. Some are even using fake exemption cards to try to get out of wearing a mask where it is now required.