KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced Thursday that he has filed a lawsuit against Jackson County over their current mask mandate, similar to his suit against Kansas City, Missouri.
Jackson County’s current indoor mask mandate went into effect Aug. 9 and is set to expire after 30 days.
The mandate aligns with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Jackson County Health Department and is supported by Jackson County public school district superintendents and the region’s chief medical officers.
Jackson County said the health order is in response to the rising number of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations due, in part, to the highly-contagious Delta variant and the area’s low vaccination rates.
Schmitt called the mandate unlawful, arbitrary and capricious.
The lawsuit names Jackson County Executive Frank White, the Jackson County Health Department, and others.
Jackson County’s mask mandate is yet another attempt by government officials to obtain, aggregate, and maintain power. Requiring residents to wear a mask, especially in the face of a widely available vaccine, is ridiculous,” Schmitt said. “My Office will continue our fight against government overreach and intrusion.”
The Missouri Attorney General’s Office announce earlier Thursday it had obtained a preliminary injunction against St. Louis County, preventing them from enforcing their mask mandate.
Schmitt is currently running to be the GOP’s U.S. Senate candidate in Missouri. At a campaign stop earlier this month in St. Charles, he compared mask mandates to oppression.
The Jackson County health order will not override Kansas City’s mask mandate order, which was voted to be extended until Sept. 23. Independence, which has its own health department, will also not be required to follow the mask mandate.
The delta variant is causing significant spread and outbreaks in Jackson County, amplified by the lower vaccination rate. Infected individuals are found to have up to 1,000 times more virus in their respiratory tracts. Additionally, individuals become infected sooner than with other variants and the ancestral strain.
According to a new state law, a public health order is now limited to 30 days. Any extension of this order beyond 30 days will require the support of a majority of the Jackson County Legislature.