Jackson County Legislature votes against reinstating mask mandate

Jackson County Legislature.jpeg
Posted at 10:54 AM, Dec 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-13 19:29:41-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In the last scheduled meeting of the year for the Jackson County Legislature, the body voted against reinstating a county mask mandate for 30 days.

The legislature voted 5-4 against a new 30-day mandate. The mandate would have been in effect until Jan. 12, 2022.

Jackson County Executive Frank White said that because of "rapidly increasing Covid cases" he was in favor of reinstating the mask mandate.

"Our position as an administration hasn't changed," White said.

Legislator Tony Miller was against a new mask mandate, calling it arbitrary because the mandate wouldn't cover Kansas City, Missouri, and Independence because they have their own public health departments.

"Masking had a time and place," Miller said.

Legislators voted 5-4 to end the previous mask mandate on Nov. 12 before it was set to expire of Nov. 22.

Legislator Ronald E. Finley, who voted previously to end the mask mandate, voted in favor of a new mandate citing rising COVID-19 case numbers.

Legislator Jalen Anderson, argued in support of reinstating the mandate during Monday's meeting while pointing to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases over the last few weeks.

"Numbers started to climb as soon as the mask mandate ended, and this would have, I believe, helped a lot of folks, a lot of kids out in Blue Springs," Anderson said. "We had over 100 children who were in school one day and the next day they had COVID-19."

In a presentation, the County Health Department used data showing an increase in the weekly case rate in Eastern Jackson County for six weeks in a row.

Data shows an increase in the percent positive rate since the county ended its last mandate early on Nov. 12. At the time, the percent positive rate was 9.5%. Currently, it's 14.9%.

Under CDC guidance, that puts the county under a high level of community transmission, which recommends everyone wear a mask in public, indoor settings.

Monday's meeting also brought about a dozen people against the mandate with signs in hand.

Blue Springs resident Preston Smith said mandates hurt businesses and wearing a mask should be a choice.

"We've crossed the line of being helpful, we have gone into the element where they try to control our lives and that is basically what people are opposing today," Smith said. "They’ve overstepped the line and I think people are tired of it."

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt spoke out against a potential mandate Friday, saying the mandate would be illegal, and threatened legal action.

“Earlier today, an effort to reinstate the mask mandate in Jackson County failed," Schmitt said in a statement. "This is a huge win for the people of Jackson County, and I’m glad that the Jackson County Legislature has followed the law and heeded my warning that such a mandate was illegal. Our fight against the continued forced masking of Missourians continues.”