A new Kansas City mask mandate begins Monday, requiring that masks be worn in public indoor spaces, such as retail stores, schools and buses, where social distancing can’t be maintained.
The mandate will last until at least Aug. 28.
It applies to people older than 5, regardless of their vaccination status, with a few exemptions. Those include people actively eating or drinking in a restaurant and people with disabilities where masks are a “substantial impairment to their health.”
Another exemption: If everyone in a room has been fully vaccinated, masks are not required.
City officials lifted the previous mask mandate back in May. In the time since, however, the more transmissible delta variant has ripped through southwest Missouri and threatened much of the state.
St. Louis reinstated its mask mandate last week. Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt sued to challenge the decision and has said he will sue to overturn Kansas City’s mandate as well.
As of Sunday, the virus has killed 2,336 metro residents and infected 161,074 to date in the region, which encompasses Kansas City and Jackson, Clay and Platte counties in Missouri, and Johnson and Wyandotte counties in Kansas.
Chiefs preseason game
The team said it has no plans to require masks at Arrowhead Stadium for their preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings on Aug. 27. That’s the day before Kansas City’s new mask mandate is set to end.
Kansas City’s mask mandate is for indoor spaces, which could explain the Chiefs’ decision not to change the current mask policy at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Chiefs’ guideline says masks are not required for fully vaccinated fans, and “while not required, masks are recommended for guests who are not fully vaccinated.”
As for the Royals, officials said they will discuss the mandate while the team is on its current three-city road trip. They won’t play at Kauffman Stadium until Aug. 9, when the Yankees are in Kansas City.
Health experts tackle COVID vaccine myths
Health officials worry that misinformation is making people afraid to get vaccinated and confusing those who have concerns and questions about the shots, slowing what they believe is the best path out of a pandemic that has ruled American life for more than 17 months.
Fighting back, Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services has created a series of YouTube videos debunking vaccine myths.
“There is a subset of the population and a group of people, probably in any area, who still are very thoughtful about this. But I think the misinformation campaigns have gone on ... and contributed to this a lot,” Dr. Dana Hawkinson, medical director of infection prevention and control for the University of Kansas Health System, said this week.
Some of the myths, rumors and concerns addressed in this story: the vaccine will make you magnetic, the vaccines make women infertile, the vaccine alters my DNA, the vaccines are experimental, thousands of healthy people have died from vaccination, and the vaccines contain microchips.
Bars requiring vaccine proof
“This is not a political decision,” the bars wrote on Facebook, calling it a “moral requirement” to help keep their staff, guests and families safe. “We do not apologize for our stance in this matter.”
The bars have urged other businesses and restaurants to take the same stance.
Conference reconsidering travel to Kansas City
In an email Friday to Mayor Quinton Lucas, Gov. Mike Parson, Visit KC and the Convention Center, the director of a November conference said its members were “increasingly concerned” about the rapidly rising cases and the “accompanying lack of an effective vaccination program.”
“It made everything a lot more real,” Lucas said Sunday of the email. “Look, we got a problem.”
The group said recent statistics printed in The Star were “impossible to ignore.”
Those facts included the city’s vaccination rate, which is “significantly below” the U.S. average, as well as the fact that the metro area saw an increase in more than 3,100 new infections in the last week, a 50% jump from the week prior.
The conference’s email, Lucas said, was a sign the city needs more efforts to get people vaccinated. The city plans to hold a similar effort at the sold-out Garth Brooks concert next week at Arrowhead Stadium, with more than 58,000 expected attendees.
People getting vaccinated in secret
Amid the current push for Americans to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, some have now started disguising themselves when they go to their vaccine appointments, a southern Missouri doctor said.
“They’ve had several people come in to get vaccinated who have tried to sort of disguise their appearance and even went so far as to say, ‘Please, please, please don’t let anybody know that I got this vaccine. I don’t want my friends to know but I don’t want to get COVID,’” Dr. Priscilla Frase, a hospitalist and chief medical information officer for Ozarks Healthcare in West Plains, said. “But they’re very concerned about how their people that they love, within their family and within their friendship circles and work circles are going to react if they found out they got the vaccine.”
Surpassing last summer’s peak
On Friday, the area encompassing Kansas City and Jackson, Clay and Platte counties in Missouri and Johnson and Wyandotte counties in Kansas gained 907 new cases for a total of 160,339 to date.
The seven-day rolling average for new cases climbed sharply in July. On July 1, it was 91 and on July 15, it was 265. On Friday, it was 542, surpassing the peak from last summer.
“We’ve all but lost the window to really get this under control before kids go back to school,” said deputy director Frank Thompson.
“It’s absolutely critical that we do everything we possibly can as a community to keep kids in school buildings this year and the first part of that is everybody getting vaccinated. The second is everybody wearing a mask when they’re out in public places.”