After Kansas City reinstates mask mandate, other metro counties weigh in

Tracking Coronavirus

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas has reinstated an indoor mask mandate for everyone, regardless of vaccine status.

The new mask rule applies to everyone age 5 and older and takes effect Monday, August 2, until at least 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, August 28.

Lucas said it will align the city with revised CDC guidelines that recommend – in COVID-19 hotspots – people should be wearing masks indoors whether or not they are vaccinated.

The mayor flatly said that he doesn’t like masks or mask mandates, but his concern after talking to local health leaders is that Kansas City’s vaccination rate is low and the COVID-19 case count is going up again.

The order requires masking while indoors at public spaces that cannot maintain social distancing. Lucas said capacity restrictions, which local restaurants and venues grew increasingly frustrated with in the past, are not a part of it.

With Kansas City returning to mask wearing, it might have residents and workers in other parts of the metro wondering if the same will happen elsewhere.

FOX4 reached out to leaders on both sides of the state line to find out what they’re planning:

Missouri side

Representatives for health departments in Jackson, Platte and Clay counties told FOX4 they have no immediate plans to mandate masking again. A spokesperson for Platte County’s Health Department said masking will be a topic of discussion at a meeting next week.

In Independence, which has its own health department separate from the county, Mayor Eileen Weir issued a new order that encourages everyone, regardless of vaccine status, to wear masks while indoors — but does not require it.

In Cass County, where vaccination rates are low and COVID case totals are high, elected officials chose not to use a mask mandate to begin with last year. Andrew Warlen, Cass County’s health director, said 32% of people in his county have received a complete vaccination regiment. Warlen is still encouraging the public to protect themselves and to get fully vaccinated.

“We had all these other jurisdictions around us with mask mandates. Did that help us? It certainly didn’t hurt, but I can’t predict what that impact on us is, per se,” Warlen said.

Kansas side

Wyandotte County told FOX4 it’s meeting with the health department Thursday to get the latest info on COVID-19 in the county. From that information, the commission will weigh its next steps to combat the virus.

But in Johnson County, a mask mandate isn’t on the county’s agenda for its next meeting Thursday. Some commissioners told FOX4 they don’t think a mandate is needed.

Gov. Laura Kelly announced some mask changes Wednesday but did not impose another statewide mask mandate. She stressed she’s still strongly encouraging Kansas residents to get vaccinated and wear a mask.

Kelly did say, starting Monday, state employees will be required to wear face masks at work if they cannot social distance. All visitors at state buildings will also be required to wear masks.

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