With big box stores changing policies, some urge masking’s still important

Tracking Coronavirus

JACKSON COUNTY, Mo. — The masks are coming off at big box retailers across the Kansas City metro.

Hy-Vee is the latest in a long list of stores easing their policies. However, some retailers are keeping them on.

If you’re picking up groceries at Hy-Vee and you’re vaccinated, you can leave your mask at home. Vaccinated employees won’t be required to wear them.

However, one mom said her family will keep masking to be safe.

In his short life so far, 4-year-old Weston fought leukemia. For now, he’s in remission. His mom, Emily Robinett said masking is nothing new for them.

“My son went through transplant, bone marrow transplants, so he’s been masking for a long time,” Robinett said.

She’s excited for the future, but knows it’s vital to be safe at this time in Weston’s life. With mask mandates easing as the pandemic seemingly calms down, she hopes shoppers who see her out and about understand.

“We’re gonna have stares, or people are gonna say things that are unkind and simply rude. So I’m kind of bracing myself for that,” Robinett said.

Jackson County Health Department Assistant Director Ray Dlugolecki said masking is more of a health precaution than a political stance.

“I’m very hopeful that we can overcome this as a country to protect one another and to get get back to the kind of foundational piece of caring about your neighbors,” Dlugolecki said.

In the past week, big box stores like Hy-Vee, Lowes, Home Depot, Walmart and Target, to name a few, have said vaccinated shoppers don’t need to mask. Dlugolecki said people still need to be cautious.

“We’re talking about the majority of residents who are not vaccinated, who have very little protection, basically, removing the last protective factor that we have available to interrupting the chain of transmission,” Dlugolecki said.

Robinett said she hopes people understand even though she’s vaccinated, a mask keeps her son safe from a number of different viruses and bacteria that could have dangerous consequences for her son.

“It’s to keep him and those like him better immunocompromised, that don’t have the luxury of vaccine protection due to age, disability, health access for any reason that’s not theirs. So it’s just being kind to others and being considerate,” Robinett said.

According to Dlugolecki, only about 30% of people in eastern Jackson County are fully vaccinated. He said they haven’t seen a jump in vaccinations since mask orders were eased.

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