Health leaders react to CDC’s revised mask guidance with Delta variant surging in Kansas City metro

Tracking Coronavirus

UPDATE: After this story was published, Mayor Quinton Lucas announced that Kansas City will reinstate a mask order. Read more on Lucas’ announcement here.


KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The CDC is reversing course in its masking policy, now recommending people in parts of the U.S., regardless of vaccination status, to wear masks inside public places.

While it says vaccines continue to do an excellent job, recent studies show that in some cases, vaccinated people can spread the virus.

The CDC has always said unvaccinated people should be masking, and the new guidelines include vaccinated people specifically for areas that are seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases.

“There’s no question that the Delta variant is surging here in Kansas City,” said Kansas City, Missouri Health Director Dr. Rex Archer.

It is also surging in most parts of Kansas. The CDC defines a substantial transmission as 50 to 100 cases per 100,000 people in a seven-day period. High transmission is anything over 100 cases. According to the CDC Tracker, every county around the Kansas City metro on both sides of the state line is experiencing a COVID surge.

“There’s a lot moving, but we will look at the CDC guidance and then look to implement it in Kansas City,” said Mayor Quinton Lucas.

Lucas said he will meet with Archer as soon as possible and consult surrounding jurisdictions to make a plan to protect public health moving forward. The city’s next move may not be a mayoral order, but one made by city council.

Archer has been recommending masking for some time, but hesitates imposing a mandate in Kansas City if surrounding municipalities are not on board, because that could hurt businesses with the city.

“I think we’ve got to weigh quite a few things going forward. But I can tell you, any prudent person, if the CDC recommends it, you should be doing it whether there’s a mandate or not,” Archer said.

Although he agrees with the CDC’s recommendation, Johnson County Health Director Dr. Sanmi Areola would not say if he will urge the county commission to impose another mask mandate. However, he believes it will be crucial in the next two to three months to follow mitigation measures.

“Unless we are committed to doing that, the path that we are on is a path of allowing the virus to spread uncontrollably. It is also a path that is going to be very costly,” Areola said.

Costly in lives and future mutations. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky believes we are just a few mutations away from a virus medical experts fear could invade the vaccines.

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