Douglas County will wait to decide on new mask guidelines next week

Tracking Coronavirus

LAWRENCE, Kan. — While officials in Johnson County, Kansas, have made their decision on mask policy going forward, other counties have not.

People in Douglas County will need to wait about a week to learn whether or not the CDC’s new mask guidelines will be adopted in some form. That discussion will happen at a Douglas County Commission meeting on May 19.

Along Massachusetts Street in Lawrence, people walking the sidewalk said the rollout has been confusing.

Although Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly endorsed the new CDC guidelines on Thursday, it became clear that it was still up to local governments to figure out how to shift their rules.

During the pandemic, musical hobbies became a safe haven for Jaxon Ray.

“I’ve kind of locked myself away in my room. I have a small bedroom studio and I’ve just been working on producing, just becoming a more serious musician,” Ray said.

It was isolation broken up by work at a local hardware store.

“You do have some customers that do get hostile towards you. I had a customer that actually cursed me out the other day over me asking them to wear a mask. And there’s a mandate so it’s the law right now. And it’s store policy,” Ray said.

“There are some folks that will do the below the nose mask-wearing or they’ll pull it off when they’re talking which defeats the purpose,” Casey Green, owner of Guitarma, said.

Green has been strict on mask rules through the pandemic. But he also is looking forward to not having to enforce mask rules or wear them if it’s safe and allowed.

“I’m thrilled to hear that some of those rules are going to be relaxed. Especially when it comes to vaccinated people,” Green said.

However, mask policy change might take longer in Douglas County.

According to a statement attributed to local health officer Dr. Thomas Marcellino, Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health is “in the process of reviewing updated CDC and KDHE guidance. Throughout this pandemic, we have tried to remain consistent with state and federal public health officials.”

Green said he will look for updates.

“I will continue to follow whatever the county and the state put forth. As soon as the mandates expire, you know, I’ll pull the sign down and kind of let people carry on as we would normally,” Green said.

“Honestly, as of right now, I still don’t know,” Ray said of his own feelings.

“Because I’m fully vaccinated myself. So I have felt a little bit more comfortable. I’ve been hanging out with more people. But there’s a lot of people, like I said, that haven’t been vaccinated. And those people could still get very sick,” Ray said.

“But I am wanting to go see live music by the end of the summer,” Ray said.

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