Mayor Lucas rescinds mask mandate after CDC guidance makes enforcement murky

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Mayor Quinton Lucas. // Courtesy KC Government.

The CDC’s new guidance dictates that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks indoors or physically distance. In response, Mayor Lucas rescinded Kansas City’s 14th Emergency COVID-19 Order effective noon May 14. This means that masks are not required indoors—for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. 

The most recent version of Kansas City’s emergency order permitted unvaccinated people to go maskless indoors only if they were with people who were vaccinated. Due to the CDC’s updated guidance, there are no longer penalties on businesses for noncompliance with the order.

“I cannot in good faith impose an order, replete with penalties for non-compliance, that is impossible for our businesses to follow,” said Mayor Lucas in a statement.

Lucas said that the CDC’s guidance created confusion with Kansas City’s COVID-19 order, and that staff at various establishments have been subjected to harassment from anti-maskers based on upholding the order. Because of these factors, the mask mandate is now fully repealed. 

“Our regulators cannot reasonably tell between those vaccinated or not at an establishment, and where our guidance may conflict with the CDC,” Lucas said in the statement. “We have followed CDC guidance throughout the pandemic and will continue to do so today.”

Now, the mayor says the city will shift to ensuring those who need access to the vaccine take it. 

The CDC says that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear a mask or distance in any setting except where required by federal, state, or local laws and regulations. 

Those updated measures conflict with the thoughts and expertise of many epidemiologists. 

In an informal survey conducted by The New York Times, 80% of 723 epidemiologists said they thought Americans would need to wear masks in public indoor places for at least another year. Only 5% said people would no longer need to wear masks indoors by summer. Nearly all of the epidemiologists said it was still necessary to keep wearing masks in crowds, whether indoors or outside. 

Most of the epidemiologists surveyed by The New York Times said mask-wearing continues to be necessary because not enough Americans have been vaccinated. Scientists estimate that nearly 70-85% of the population will need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to reach herd immunity.

Only 35.8% of the U.S. population has been vaccinated. Missouri has fully vaccinated just over 31% of its population. About 31% of Kansas Citians have been fully vaccinated, depending on the county

Masks are still required in certain places and situations. Those include hospitals and nursing homes; air, train, and bus travel; and congregate settings such as prisons and homeless shelters.

Lucas ended his statement by saying that the city’s precautions have saved lives over the course of the pandemic—adding that Kansas City should be proud of the steps taken.

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