Kansas City has extended its citywide mask mandate again, as the area remains a hotspot for COVID-19.
The Kansas City Council voted 11-2 on Thursday to extend the mandate to Oct. 7. Council members Heather Hall, District 1, and Brandon Ellington, District 3 at-large, voted against it.
Kansas City’s mandate, which went into effect on Aug. 2, applies to those over the age of 5 in indoor spaces regardless of vaccination status, with some exemptions.
Due to new Missouri law, public health restrictions are required to be reviewed by the council every 30 days. Local and national health experts have pointed to masks and vaccination as the most promising path toward controlling the pandemic.
This extension until Oct. 7 would align Kansas City with Jackson County’s similar mandate, “creating more consistency for our businesses, schools, and families,” Morgan Said, chief of staff for Mayor Quinton Lucas, said in a statement earlier this week.
Councilwoman Katheryn Shields, District 4 at-large, said during the council meeting that, “one of the reasons we wear these masks, maybe the predominant reason, is not just to keep ourselves safe as individuals, but to keep our society, our fellow citizens safe.”
Ellington and Hall said at last month’s vote on the extension that they believed in the individual’s choice to wear a mask. There was not additional discussion on the mandate Thursday.
An extension would need to return to the council in October for approval.
Interim health director Frank Thompson said during the Transportation, Infrastructure and Operations Committee meeting on Wednesday that there have been significant increases in COVID-19 cases for children. Masks are the best way to protect children who have not yet been able to get vaccinated.
Thompson said the areas with the highest level of cases correspond with the lowest levels of vaccinations.
And while hospitalizations have tapered off since the mask order was implemented, “we are not out of the woods yet,” Thompson said.
A report submitted alongside the ordinance by Thompson cites state data saying that daily average cases have increased more than 635% since the first week of June to mid-September. The report says 97% of Missouri counties have been designated as experiencing high levels of community transmission.
Kansas City’s case rate is two times the threshold set by the Centers for Disease Control as a high transmission area, the report said.