Paola ends mask mandate after 9 months, drawing mixed reactions

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PAOLA, Kan. – City leaders in Paola are reversing course after nearly nine months and removing the city’s mask mandate. The new measure began Wednesday.

Reaction around the small city is mixed, but generally in favor of the decision.

“Now that I’m full vaccinated, I’m so excited about it,” said Makayla Kettler. “I wanted to throw all my masks away.”

But some people tell FOX4 they believe this decision may be a little premature.

“I think it’s helping,” said Charles Raper. “We’ve been wearing masks when we go out for a year or better and neither one of us have even had a cold.”

According to latest COVID-19 fact sheet by the Miami County Health Department, in the last two weeks, they have reported only 44 new cases of COVID-19.

In Paola, 42% of people are fully vaccinated and they are reportedly keeping vaccine slots filled.

Thirty-seven first and second-dose clinics have been completed since January and upcoming clinics are scheduled through May in the county.

Council member Leanne Shields, who voted in favor of rescinding the mandate, tells FOX4 after reviewing COVID rates and promising local vaccination numbers, the council believed it was time to move forward with this decision.

Council voted 3-1 in favor of removing the mask mandate earlier this month.

Local businesses can set their own mask requirements and the Paola school district will keep existing requirements to wear masks until the end of the school year.

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