KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The city’s indoor mask mandate may stick around for another month. A city council committee Wednesday voted unanimously to extend it one more time.
Earlier this week, Jackson County extended its mask wearing requirement until Nov. 6. Now Kansas City is taking similar steps. The city council Thursday is expected to approve extending the mask order until Nov. 4.
The health department is trying to get Kansas City’s COVID-19 infection rate below 100 new cases for every 100,000 people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers anything above that to be a high rate of transmission.
Mask wearing is being credited for helping move Kansas City’s rate down for the last four or five weeks. But right now, the city has 140 new COVID-19 cases for every 100,000 people.
Mayor Quinton Lucas is hopeful the city will be out of the high transmission zone if the trends continue for another month.
“I do not want this to be an order that sticks around after our next order expiration,” Lucas said. “I think we have seen positive progress such that we will come to the end of the mask mandate at the beginning of November. I think that will be important for Kansas Citians.”
The new proposed order will now allow exemptions for religious organizations and parochial schools. That’s based on recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings in New York and California.
Catholic schools in Kansas City allow each parish to decide whether to require masks or not. Some are mirroring the public schools with mask rules. Others are not. Kansas City will allow that religious-based decision making.
The big problem remains that Kansas City continues to have less than half of its population vaccinated, and unvaccinated people continue to clog hospital beds. African-American men under 35 have the lowest vaccination rate in the city. Only one out of four have gotten their shots.