KANSAS CITY, Kan. — After two motions to end mask requirements in Wyandotte County failed Monday night, the Board of Commissioners of the Unified Government have tabled the discussion until a meeting on May 27.
Wyandotte County is one of the only metro counties left with a mask order.
In a special virtual meeting Monday night, the health department recommended the mask order stay since current data shows only 25% of residents have been fully vaccinated.
However, in Johnson County, about 2 out of 5 people have been fully vaccinated, and in Jackson County, close to 1 in 3 people have been fully vaccinated.
Health officials warned the community is seeing at least 10 new COVID-19 cases every day with a large increase in cases among school age children.
“Our current health order has one singular purpose to require mask wearing indoors in those public places that are most high risk for the unvaccinated among us and already provides an exemption when everyone in a room is vaccinated,” said Juliann Van Liew with the health department.
Some commissioners agreed the vaccine percentages aren’t high enough to drop masks.
“We’re still in a pandemic. There’s no place for us to turn back after we revoke all our orders,” Commissioner Christian Ramirez said. “We could do it, but at what price?”
However, some commissioners argued Wyandotte County should be aligned with other metro municipalities that allow people who are vaccinated to stop wearing masks indoors.
“I think we’re overstretching our responsibility, and I think it’s time to remove masks,” Commissioner Mike Kane said after proposing a motion to end mask orders.
But all motions to end the mask order tied with District 7 Commissioner Jim Walters absent. The decision was tabled until the end of the month.
This pause on mask changes is a relief for some people who say it’s too soon.
“I’m a funeral director, and we buried 12 people this year so far from COVID, a couple of people that didn’t believe that it was an issue and they passed away,” Carrie Lally said.
Some people said they would like to see commissioners focus on getting more people vaccinated before removing the requirements.
“We need to get it right the first time,” Mitchell Irving said. “If that means wearing the masks longer and encouraging people to get vaccinated, then that’s what we need to do.”
Commissioners will revisit the mask discussion on May 27. The current order expires May 28.