Kansas City’s mask mandate receives support to get extended again

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City’s mask mandate will likely be extended into October.

Members of the city council’s Transportation, Infrastructure and Operations Committee heard testimony from the city’s health department during a committee meeting Wednesday morning.

“After the mask mandate was passed, there was a downward turn in terms of cases. And for this most recent mass order that downturn as you can see continues,” Frank Thompson, Interim Director of the Kansas City Health Department, said.

Thompson credits the current mask mandate for the over all falling COVID-19 cases in Kansas City, but warns people who are Hispanic are the one group still experiencing an upward trend over the past two weeks.

The biggest issue, according to Thompson, is the lagging increase in vaccinations.

“Right now we’re only seeing increases of around 1%, a week, in terms of our overall vaccination rates. If that trend continues, we will not hit 50% vaccinated until late November, and we wouldn’t hit 60% until April of 2022,” Thompson said. “And this forecast does not include the five to 11 year olds who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated.”

Thompson also pointed out that Kansas City’s African American population lags behind other groups. He said 36% of African Americans in Kansas City are fully vaccinated. That compares to 46% of Caucasians and 48% of Hispanics.

The health department also said it’s concerned about the number of children with COVID-19.

“When we look at hospitalizations, we have seen some tapering off. Since the mask order was put in place, but we’re still not out of the woods yet,” Thompson said.

After hearing several people speak out against extending the mandate, and a local pastor supporting it, committee members voted to support the extension and forwarded it to the full council to vote on the ordinance Thursday.

The current mask mandate was implemented on Aug. 2. The council voted to extend the mandate to Sept. 23. If the full council votes to extend the mandate again Thursday, the mandate will be in place through Oct. 7.

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