OLATHE, Kan. — About half a dozen people on Thursday spoke against requiring masks again in Johnson County.
Commissioners say next week they will consider what action, if any, they should take to curb the surge in people seeking hospital care for Delta variant infections.
The virus positivity rate in Johnson County is now nearly 8%, above the 5% threshold considered acceptable by public health officials.
More children and younger adults are experiencing severe illness in the hospital, according to Dr. Sanmi Areola, the county’s director of health and environment. Johnson County has more than half of its population fully vaccinated, the vaccination rate remains low in surrounding areas of the region.
Still, several people urged commissioners not to reimpose a mask mandate.
“To me balancing freedom and safety will always involve careful consideration of where each appropriately falls within a set of boundaries set up by a limited government,” said Jenny Cox of Overland Park, Kansas. “And to me, after careful consideration, an overreach of safety will absolutely encroach on our freedom if mask mandates continue. Do not allow any more mask mandates in Johnson County.”
Starting Thursday, Johnson County is requiring all county employees to wear masks while on the job. Other employers across the U.S. also are requiring their workers to get vaccinated.
Facebook, Google and much of the tech sector seems to be leading this charge, although Wall Street firms like Blackrock and Morgan Stanley said all their workers also must be vaccinated before returning to the office.