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Wyandotte County Joins The Growing List Of Places Demanding Mask Use

Demonstrators protesting mask mandates gather outside City Hall in Kansas City, Kansas, prior to the Wyandotte Unified Government's special meeting Thursday evening.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Demonstrators protesting mask mandates gather outside City Hall in Kansas City, Kansas, prior to the Wyandotte Unified Government's special meeting Thursday evening.

The Unified Government of Wyandotte County Commission voted 8-2 Thursday to impose a mask mandate for indoor gatherings in response to the rebounding pandemic.

Amid protests about overreaching government public health orders, the Wyandotte Unified Government on Thursday became the latest unit of local government in the Kansas City area to respond to a surging COVID-19 outbreak with a mask mandate.

The county commission passed the mandate 8-2 in a special meeting. Edwardsville and Bonner Springs were exempted from the order.

Several cities, counties and school boards in the metro area have adopted mask mandates in the past week.

The Johnson County Board of County Commissioners voted to require masks for kindergarten through 6th grade students on Thursday.

Jackson County announced Wednesday it would impose a mask mandate for everyone ages 5 and older.

Both of those are set to take effect on Monday. Before Thursday’s meeting in Kansas City, Kansas, demonstrators gathered outdoors to protest the mask mandate.

Many of those protestors poured into City Hall and watched the virtual meeting in the lobby. Several spoke out during the public comment section of the meeting.

Most criticized the commissioners and the medical professionals.

“Science doesn’t make decisions, Representatives make decisions,” Kansas City, Kansas, resident Josh Monnington said. “Much of the problems that we have faced have come from government. Government orders have illegalized our most intimate family gatherings.”

Some people are exempted from the order, however.

They include children under the age of five, people with conditions that prevent wearing a face covering, athletes engaged in organized competition and people working alone in enclosed spaces.

Mayor David Alvey said the county needed to take decisive action to stem the fast-spreading delta variant of COVID-19.

“Every time we’ve given this virus oxygen, it has flared up,” he said. “The data demonstrates time and again that the mask does work.”

The Rev. Tony Carter told the commission he was concerned for the safety of his family. He said he listened to both sides of the argument and is in favor of the mandate.

“We’re all in this together,” he said. “The fact that somebody makes a choice to not be vaccinated or not to wear a mask or just ignore all of this because of their freedom is just not good enough.”

“I have a 10-year-old granddaughter and really I’m worried about what can happen when she goes back to school.”

Daran Duffy, who was a candidate in the recent primary for Kansas City Mayor, was one of those who listened from the lobby and protested before the meeting.

“I’m frustrated by it,” he said afterward. “We have commissioners and a mayor that are unwilling to hear the people.”

As KCUR’s general assignment reporter and visual journalist, I bring our audience inside the daily stories that matter most to the people of the Kansas City metro, showing how and why events affect residents. Through my photography, I seek to ensure our diverse community sees itself represented in our coverage. Email me at carlos@kcur.org.
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