KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Jackson County Legislature voted against a mask mandate Monday morning. The resolution failed by a vote of 5-4.
Supporters of the resolution cited an increase in COVID-19 cases in the county as one of the reasons the mandate was necessary.
“Jackson County, as well as the surrounding counties, are classified as high transmission areas,” Bridgette Shaffer, director of the Jackson County Health Department, told legislators before the vote.
Shaffer also said Jackson County has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases for six weeks in a row with a 150% case rate increase. She reported that every age group has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases from October to November. Because of that, the Jackson County Health Department said it recommends masking.
Jackson County Executive Frank White said he also supports the resolution.
“Politics is temporary; health care is forever. So we just have to remember that this is an issue that has become publicized and politicalized,” White said.
“I think we have to do everything we possibly can to save lives,” Jackson County Legislator Ronald Finley said.
But not everyone agreed with the idea during Monday’s meeting.
“There are a number of issues with this legislation that makes it even inappropriate for us to consider a vote on. First of all, it is against state Statute 67.265, which places a 180-day prohibition on expired or terminated health orders,” Jackson County Legislator Jeanie Lauer said.
Monday’s vote came a month after Jackson County Legislators voted to end the county’s mask mandate.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt also said the mask mandate is illegal and warned legislators in a letter on Friday.
“I urge you to stop imposing mask mandates, especially that make five-year-olds criminals,” Schmitt said in a letter sent to the legislature.
Schmitt also wrote that the resolution violates state law and the Jackson County Legislature has no authority to approve or issue a mask mandate for a host of reasons.
The Lee’s Summit City Council planned to meet Monday afternoon in a special session to consider its response if county legislators passed the mandate.
“Our citizens have been subject to the decisions of Jackson County when it has pertained to social distancing, wearing masks and capacity limits. Our citizens can make independent decisions to protect themselves and their families. We are at a point where vaccines are available to our eligible population, personal protection is easily available, and COVID testing is offered on a frequent basis,” Bill Baird, Lee’s Summit Mayor, said in a statement.
In November, the Blue Springs City Council also officially asked the Jackson County Legislature to end its mask mandate.