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Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt Sues To Block Jackson County Mask Mandate

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announces a potential settlement in a lawsuit against manufacturers and distributors of addictive opioid painkillers in July.
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KCUR 89.3
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announces a potential settlement in a lawsuit against manufacturers and distributors of addictive opioid painkillers in July.

The lawsuit is similar to the ones Schmitt has filed against Kansas City and St. Louis County, which also imposed mask mandates.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt has filed yet another lawsuit seeking to block a local mask mandate implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19, this time targeting Jackson County.

The lawsuit is similar to the ones Schmitt has filed against Kansas City and St. Louis County, which also imposed mask mandates. On Thursday, a St. Louis County judge issued a preliminary injunction blocking St. Louis County from enforcing its mandate.

But unlike Kansas City and Jackson County, where the city council and county legislature approved the mandates, the St. Louis County mandate was put in place by the county executive. The county's council then voted to repeal it, but there's a legal fight surrounding whether they can remove the requirement.

Schmitt, who’s seeking the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Roy Blunt, calls the mandates unconstitutional, arbitrary and capricious.

In a release announcing the lawsuit against Jackson County, Schmitt said the mask mandate “is yet another attempt by government officials to obtain, aggregate and maintain power."

"Requiring residents to wear a mask, especially in the face of a widely available vaccine, is ridiculous,” Schmitt said.

Both Kansas City and Jackson County issued their mandates after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors in areas with high rates of COVID-19 transmission.

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas accused Schmitt of playing politics with people’s health and lives after Schmitt sued the city earlier this month.

“This for us is not about politics,” Lucas said shortly after Schmitt announced the lawsuit. “This is not about power. This is not about control. It's about how can we save lives in Kansas City, in western Missouri and in our region.”

Jackson County’s mandate took effect on Aug. 6 and requires everyone 5 and older to wear masks inside public places.

Jackson County Executive Frank White, who is named as a defendant in Schmitt’s suit, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Jackson County has reported 47,469 coronavirus cases and 527 deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Just 29% of Jackson County’s population has been fully vaccinated against the virus.

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