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Jackson County extends mask mandate for three more weeks as COVID spread remains high

Blackhole Bakery on Troost Avenue in Kansas City, Missouri, in May.
Jodi Fortino
KCUR 89.3
Blackhole Bakery on Troost Avenue in Kansas City, Missouri, in May.

Although some county representatives argued for ending the mandate immediately, the Jackson County Legislature voted 5-2 to extend the current mask mandate until Nov. 22.

Jackson County will continue requiring masks in public settings, to prevent the spread of COVID-19, until at least Nov. 22.

County legislators on Monday morning approved an extension of the countywide mask mandate by a vote of 5-2, just minutes after rejecting a proposed measure to end the rule immediately.

Supporters of the extension acknowledged the progress the county has made in slowing the spread of the coronavirus, but they argued the threat required continued action.

“I see the numbers. I think everyone has — that they’re fluctuating, or they’re even going down,” said Ronald Finley, who represents the 2nd District. “But as long as there are deaths, I think that we need to have this in place to protect people.”

Jackson County’s case rate stands at 152 per 100,000 residents for the last seven days. The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention currently rate community transmission in Jackson County as “high" — the most severe level of COVID risk.

CDC recommendations call for everyone in high-risk counties to wear masks in public, indoors settings.

Under the mandate, which was previously scheduled to expire on Nov. 7, Jackson County requires universal masking in indoor public spaces for everyone ages 5 and older, regardless of vaccination status.

Mask mandate opponent Theresa Cass Galvin, who represents the county’s 6th District, said she was neither against nor in favor of masks, but rather "pro-social responsibility.”

“I think we need to put this back into the hands of businesses,” Galvin said. “Let them decide if they want to require masks in their businesses, and then let us decide if we want to go in that business or not.”

Prior to approving the mandate extension, the council rejected a measure that would have immediately ended the mandate by a vote of 5-3.

As a health care reporter, I aim to empower my audience to take steps to improve health care and make informed decisions as consumers and voters. I tell human stories augmented with research and data to explain how our health care system works and sometimes fails us. Email me at alexs@kcur.org.
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