KANSAS CITY, Kan. — People in Wyandotte County will soon be required to wear protective masks in public.
That order came from public health leaders with the Unified Government of Wyandotte County. It goes into effect Tuesday at 5 p.m., and it’s the county’s latest effort to curb COVID-19’s resurgent spread.
The seven-day rolling average of cases in Wyandotte County is rising again, according to a news release from the Unified Government. KCK Mayor David Alvey issued the mask mandate on Saturday afternoon, partnering with Wyandotte County public health leaders to safeguard against a strong second wave of coronavirus cases.
On Saturday morning, hundreds of people showed up for coronavirus testing at Mercy and Truth Medical Missions. The non-profit refers to itself as a “medical safety net,” since it provides medical care to people whether they have medical insurance or not. Lines of cars wrapped around the block as that agency also distributed donated groceries and cleaning goods.
“You are standing in the zip code that has the most positive cases in Wyandotte County,” Anne Rauth, a spokesperson for Mercy and Truth Medical Missions, said. “We have a lot of health disparities in Wyandotte County. Sometimes, those disparities are showing up in a lot of positive COVID cases.”
Rauth said she knew of outbreaks that had taken place at meat packing plants in the area that added to Wyandotte County’s growing totals. The latest numbers from the Center for Disease Control show Wyandotte County as accounting for 15.5% of the COVID-19 cases in Kansas with 2,108 total cases. The CDC website states that 79 of those patients have died.
Wyandotte County’s Public Health Department shows a noticeable rise in cases within the past month, pointing to the relaxing of public health restrictions as a likely contributor. Representatives from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment were in attendance at Saturday morning’s testing session, but they denied FOX4 News’ requests for comment.
“The numbers overall are rising. I think if we get on top of this again, doing things like this to educate the public, I think we can crack it again,” Rauth said.
“I don’t want anyone to get sick. People don’t know how important it is. If you’re a carrier, you can get somebody sick and not realize how sick they can get,” Phyllis Hernandez, a patient who came out for Saturday morning testing, told FOX4 News.
Kansas State Sen. Pat Pettey (D-Kansas City, KS.) appeared at the Mercy and Truth testing site. Sen. Pettey said she doesn’t anticipate Gov. Laura Kelly will issue any new statewide restrictions, but requirements requiring people to wear masks in public seemed like a good idea to her.
“We’ve become more and more lax all the time when we’re out in public. My mask protects you and your mask protects me,” Sen. Pettey said. “It’s going to to take everyone’s effort to make that happen and to spread the word.”