KANSAS CITY, Mo. — COVID-19 and the Delta variant are sweeping across Missouri as the number of people who are fully vaccinated from the virus continues to lag behind other states.
Earlier this week, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas suggested the possibility that if cases in the metro continue to increase, there is a possibility that some COVID-19 restrictions could return.
“Perhaps it is the sort of thing where we need to make clear even with larger events that they shouldn’t be taking place unless you can make clear that everybody’s vaccinated,” Lucas said during a radio interview with KMBZ Monday morning.
Lucas went on to say he isn’t thinking about heightened restrictions necessarily but does think that certain areas of capacity restriction and, or having mask requirements back in large capacity areas might be helpful in the long-term.
But, Chief Medical Officers at several of the metro’s hospitals said bringing back masking requirements, if eventually necessary, will be easier said than done.
“I think that’s a pretty steep hill to climb,” Dr. Mark Steele, CMO at Truman Medical Centers, said during a live stream with the University of Kansas Hospital on Wednesday.
It was the same answer from hospitals on the Kansas side of the metro.
“I don’t see that happening. No, it’s still a good recommendation, certainly if you are not vaccinated to to wear a mask in those situations, to protect yourself and protect others. But I don’t see us going back to a [mask] mandate,” Dr. Larry Botts, CMO at AdventHealth Kansas City, said.
Everyone involved in the interview agreed that the vaccines, and convincing people to get them, is still the best option, even with the Delta variant being the prevalent strain right now.
“That’s our that’s absolutely our best defense against against COVID in general. Just is continuing to to get that population that’s not vaccinated in that vaccinated category,” Botts said.
“There’s no question that these vaccines are just incredibly attractive and really protect people and protect even against the Delta variant. So I really do think you need to protect yourself and other unvaccinated folks,” Steele said. “And I know we also have the vulnerable population of those under the age of 12, who can’t be vaccinated yet. So there still is a need.”
The decision about whether the Kansas City metro will see future restrictions will be made by local and county governments and public health experts. There is not a public plan or a threshold of when one could be announced, if it ever is needed.