Latest COVID-19 news: Kansas City mask requirements, cases surging and low vaccine rate

·4 min read

Here’s the latest on COVID-19 in the Kansas City region.

Mask mandate in Kansas City

With the latest surge in COVID-19 infections across the Kansas City metro area, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas is bringing back a mandatory mask requirement.

The mandate requires masks indoors for everyone older than 5 years old, regardless of their vaccination status. It goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 2 and will last until at least Aug. 28.

Lucas’ decision comes after the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated guidelines Tuesday afternoon, saying individuals — including those who’ve been vaccinated — should wear masks indoors where the risk of transmission is considered high or substantial.

Masks have been optional in Kansas City since the last public health order was rescinded in mid-May. At the time, the local rules had already eased some but still required face coverings in most situations where people were close to one another.

As of Tuesday, the seven-day rolling average for new cases in the Kansas City metro was 452.

North Kansas City to issue new mask order

North Kansas City Mayor Bryant DeLong announced on Twitter on Wednesday morning that he will issue a new mask order in North Kansas City.

“There is no doubt that COVID-19 is yet again posing a significant health risk to our region and community,” DeLong said Wednesday morning on Twitter.

“Based on updated CDC guidance as well as the increasing hospitalizations in the region it is my intent to issue a new mask order in NKC. More to follow.”

DeLong has not expanded on the details of what date the mask mandate will be implemented and how long it will last.

Kansas City metro is considered a high transmission area

The entire Kansas City metro falls under a high transmission area defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as one where masks should be worn in public indoor settings by everyone to curb the latest spread of COVID-19.

With COVID-19’s delta strain continuing its surge through the U.S., cases of COVID-19 are at a point where all residents of Missouri and most of eastern Kansas should wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status, according to the CDC’s data.

Nationally, about 63% of counties are considered places where risk of transmission is high or substantial.

Those who had not been vaccinated were already advised to wear masks in public under the federal guidelines. But many local governments — including every one in the Kansas City metro — essentially abandoned restrictive measures on businesses and residents following the changes.

Other governmental mandates related to COVID-19 as of late have been made in school districts where many children are too young to get the vaccine. So far, Kansas City, Kansas City, Kansas and Shawnee Mission school districts are the only three that will have any mask requirements when the new school year begins.

COVID-19 cases continue to surge

The Kansas City metropolitan area added more than 3,100 new COVID-19 cases this past week, an increase of 50% compared with the week before. On Tuesday, the area encompassing Kansas City and Jackson, Clay and Platte counties in Missouri and Johnson and Wyandotte counties in Kansas gained 603 new cases for a total of 158,196 to date.

The metro has not added more than 600 new cases in a single day since late January.

Kansas City is the second of Missouri’s major cities to go back to masks. And the move could face opposition from state government officials.

Last week, county and city leaders in St. Louis issued a mask order for indoor public spaces in response to the rapidly advancing delta variant. They were met with a lawsuit from Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt challenging the decision to issue those restrictions. Schmitt said he promises to sue Kansas City as well.

Vaccine rate in Missouri and Kansas

The CDC says about 49% of the total U.S. population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and about 57% has received at least one dose of a vaccine.

In Missouri, about 41% of the population has been fully vaccinated and 47% has initiated vaccination.

And in Kansas, roughly 42% of the population has completed inoculation, with 48% having initiated.

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