Miami County Commissioners vote to opt out of Kansas mask mandate

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MIAMI COUNTY, Kan. — Miami County is opting out of Kansas’ statewide mask mandate.

Miami County Commissioners voted 5-0 Thursday to opt out of Governor Laura Kelly’s mandate.

The governor and legislature compromised to give Kansas counties the chance to enact less stringent health orders, including the mask order.

The governor’s order says Kansas residents must wear masks in indoor public spaces, while seeking health care or using public transportation.

It also says people must wear them outdoors in public when they can’t remain at least 6 feet (1.8 meters) from others.

RELATED: As Johnson County joins rest of Kansas issuing mandatory masks order, many stand against it

Businesses must require their employees to wear masks in places frequented by the public, even if members of the public are not present, or if they prepare food.

Miami County Commissioner Rob Roberts said the commissioners all agreed that masks should be encouraged, but not mandatory.

“There was a strong passion about supporting the medical need and necessity to protect individuals, and to protect their family and to protect their community, however, we draw the line on a mandatory requirement.” 

Roberts said that individual cities, school districts and businesses are free to make their own recommendations regarding mask usage.

“We’re not on the side of a conspiracy. We’re not on the side of it does or doesn’t work. You know, you do your homework. You take personal responsibility. You research for you, yourself, your family and you do what’s best for you.”

Miami County currently has 34 positive COVID-19 cases, with an infection rate of 1.0 per 1,000 residents, according to data from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Roberts cited the relatively low infection rate as one of the reasons for not adhering to the statewide mandate.

Other municipalities in the metro have decided to go along with the mandate. The Johnson County Board of Commissioners voted 4-2 Thursday to follow the order.

Wyandotte County, which has one of the highest infection rates in the state, issued their own mask mandate that took effect earlier this week.

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