Jackson County’s mask mandate up for debate again

Tracking Coronavirus

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jackson County is one of a handful of areas in the metro still requiring all adults to wear masks while inside public places. That could change as soon as Friday.

The Jackson County Legislature is scheduled to meet Friday morning. Among other items, there is also a resolution to end the county’s current mask mandate on the agenda. The agenda says the resolution is being introduced by Dan Tarwater, Theresa Cass Galvin, and Jeanie Lauer.

The legislators voted on Nov. 1 to approve extending the county’s mask mandate through Nov. 22. The resolution passed 5-2 with Tarwater and Lauer voting against it. Cass Galvin was absent.

That decision came three days before Kansas City, Missouri, voted to end its mandate.

Now many in Jackson County said it’s time for people to make up their own minds about when they need to wear a mask and when they feel safe enough to go without one.

In a letter to the Jackson County Legislature, members of the Blue Springs City Council officially asked legislators to end the mask mandate. They want the mandate replaced with one that strongly encourages mask wearing for those who are not vaccinated or immunocompromised.

“From the beginning of this pandemic the Jackson County Health Department, along with the County Executive, and more recently the County Legislature, has acted with impunity in their oversight of public health policy, and without requesting input from the elected officials in the communities they serve, or consideration of the impact their decisions have on those communities,” the letter said.

The letter went on to say that when the county legislature voted to extend the mask mandate earlier this month, it was not done out of necessity or “good faith.”

“Some policies are simply too restrictive for organizations and businesses and do not align with other policies and practices that have been implemented in the City of Kansas City Missouri as well as the State of Missouri. This creates confusion throughout the region and frustration by constituents and local elected officials,” the letter said.

Members of the Blue Springs City Council, and others, said masks no longer need to be required because COVID-19 cases are declining in eastern Jackson County. They also say the positivity rate in the area is at 8%, which is below the 10% threshold, and COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are available for those age 5 and older.

Others, including some medical experts in the metro, say we need to continue to wear masks in public, especially heading into the holidays and colder weather because more people will be inside together for longer amounts of time.

“The Mayor and City Council of Blue Springs, Missouri express their support for local businesses, schools, and organizations during this challenging period and would urge the Jackson County Health Department to relax its COVID-19 recovery polices and implement policies similar to those adopted by the City of Kansas City Missouri as well as the State of Missouri,” the letter said. 

All six members of the Blue Springs City Council signed the letter. Mayor Carson Ross was not at the council meeting.

The Jackson County Legislature Meeting begins at 10:45 p.m. at the Jackson County Courthouse in Kansas City, Missouri.

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