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Doniphan County commissioners opt-out of Kansas mask mandate

Doniphan County commissioners voted not to require masks after the state’s mandate began Friday, July 3.

Posted: Jul 3, 2020 11:19 AM

(TROY, Ks.) If you are a Kansas resident, or heading to the sunflower state for the holiday, what county you step foot in will determine whether or not you are required to wear a mask.

Doniphan County commissioners voted not to require masks after the state’s mandate began Friday, July 3.

Beginning at 12:01 a.m. July 3rd every Kansan in a public space must wear a mask,” Kansas governor Laura Kelly said during a press conference on June 29.

Statewide cases have been trending in the wrong direction.

"We’re in the middle of a bad convergence: 10 days, 2500 cases, that's evidence enough,” Dr. Lee Norman, Kansas Department of Health and Environment said.

The order says masks must be worn in most indoor public spaces and outdoor areas where social distancing is impossible.

“One of the real problems we've had throughout this pandemic has been mixed messages and I think this is one that needs to be very clear and unified,” Kelly said.

The Governor’s executive order sent counties scrambling to counter with their own local laws before the holiday weekend.
“We are six feet apart and we are social distancing. I'm going to remove my mask,” Sheryl Pierce of the Doniphan County Health Department said. “The board of county commissioners acting as our board of health were instrumental in starting a resolution that said that masks would just be recommended but not required.”

Doniphan County has had only 25 cases of coronavirus, all but one has recovered.

Science isn't the issue for Doniphan County. “We strongly, strongly recommend that masks be worn, we believe in the science behind the masks,” Pierce said.

Doctors and public health officials are in near universal consensus.

"Your mask protects me. My mask protects you,” Norman said.

Some counties say it is just not practical to enforce.

"So we felt like if we can't really enforce it, why would we have a mandate like that,” Pierce said.

Plenty of counties have gone the other direction too. Johnson, Wyandotte, Douglas counties all mandate masks, making for a confusing patchwork of laws.

The state's chief health official says when in doubt of the local rules: "you can’t go wrong wearing a mask,” Norman said.

Doniphan County wanted to remind residents there that testing is offered Monday and Thursday each week and that they have thousands of masks available they can give you for free. All you have to do is call 785-985-3591.

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Dangerous heat will move into the area today with highs reaching the upper 90s to triple digits. Heat index values will likely be between 100-106. Use caution when spending time outside this afternoon. Hot and humid conditions will continue on Friday with highs back in the upper 90s and lower 100s with heat index values reaching triple digits. A cold front will move through the area Friday afternoon into the evening bringing the chance for a few showers and thunderstorms. Scattered rain chances will continue through the weekend with highs in the lower 90s. Highs in the 80s will return for the beginning of next week.
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