Douglas and Wyandotte, last two metro counties looking at changing mask requirements

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Wyandotte and Douglas counties are the only two in the Kansas City metro still requiring vaccinated people to wear masks, but that may change this week.

“I mean, because everybody’s ready to get back to life,” Wyandotte County resident Scott Graves said.

It’s been over a year since face masks became a permanent accessory, and although few, if anyone, likes to wear them, some worry about the variants. Graves considers the mask debate a no-win situation.

“We don’t want to create a problem somewhere, and we end up in the same situation we did last year around the same time,” Graves said.

Mary Ready is tired of covering up all of the time but is waiting to see if the COVID transmission rate remains low. 

“I just don’t feel comfortable yet going without one myself,” she said.

Mary’s husband Dean is ready to ditch his mask now. He believes it does not make sense to wear them anymore.

“Schools are opening up where kids can go with or without masks whether or not they’ve had their vaccine or not,” Ready said. They still want people to still wear masks even though you’ve to got your COVID shots or whatever?”

The Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas, has called a special meeting Monday night to discuss the County’s COVID order, and the decision is not expected to be unanimous.

On his Facebook page, District 3 Commissioner Christian Ramirez posted that it’s too early to drop the mask order, saying, “Our county is only at 36% vaccination rate which means 7 out of 10 people in Wyandotte County have not received any form of the vaccine.”

District 5 Commissioner Mike Kane is on the other side of the issue.

“We’ve got to get back to normal,” Kane said. “This has been a long time and it’s extremely difficult for kids and everyone else. Businesses are struggling to stay afloat while we continue to wear the masks.”

While Kane acknowledged that there are a lot of people who have not gotten vaccinated, he says the vaccine is now available and easy to get. Those who are willing to get it and protect themselves should not be penalized. For him is now a matter of personal responsibility.

“If there something happens late in the Summer and we have to modify it, we modify it. But for now I think that masks need to come off,” he said.

The Douglas/Lawrence County Health Department will recommend that county commissioners vote to end the COVID health order during its meeting Wednesday night — a reversal of the policy that has been in place since March 2020.

“It’s a recommendation, not an order,” LDC Health Department spokesman George Diepenbrock said. “If you’re older than 5 years, go ahead and wear a mask in an indoor public place.”

One of the reasons the LDC Health Department decided to follow the CDC guidelines is that the COVID vaccines are working very well to prevent illness, even as it applies to the variants. Health experts say the likelihood of a vaccinated person transmitting the disease very low.

For 60-year-old David Lawrence, any risk is too much and he’s not pleased that mask mandates are being dropped. Having had lung issues his whole life, he would prefer to wait until we have reached herd immunity or close to protect people like him.

“Considering the fact that you could be asymptomatic and pass things on to other people even when you were vaccinated is enough for me,” he said.

To join Monday night’s Wyandotte County special meeting, CLICK HERE.

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