(TROY, Kan.) A local frontline worker expressed concerns Tuesday about Doniphan County’s decision to withdraw a public mask ordinance.
Doniphan County Commissioners voted Monday to drop the order.
Health Department Safety and Office Manager Jessica Robinson said she is concerned about the ripple effect of the Commissioners’ decision.
“As someone working in public health, it is very disheartening,” she said. “Personally, I think we were all kind of hoping this would have lasted maybe a month or two, given the circumstances. We are the ones that do all of the testings, all the testing of the county comes through here, all of the positives. There has been a significant drop due to the mask mandate so hopefully, it doesn’t go back up.”
The county, like the state, has seen a recent drop in new COVID-19 cases and positivity rates. Since the pandemic began, Doniphan County has lost 20 individuals to COVID-19 and at least 930 residents have been infected, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Statewide, 4,643 Kansans have died and a total of 291,715 cases have been reported.
The health department has been busy testing, tracking, and administering nearly 500 doses of COVID vaccines to eligible residents.
“Hopefully this momentum continues with the vaccine all over so we can get that herd immunity to really slow this down and then all these things like mask mandates and stuff like that won’t be an issue anymore,” said Robinson.
She said given how many lives have been lost and the sacrifices healthcare workers have made, she said it’s frustrating that wearing a mask continues to be such a big issue.
“From a medical perspective, masks work. They definitely work. They definitely help not spread things. I mean the numbers are there. The statistics are there. Versus an opinion of, ‘Hey, I just don’t want to do it because it’s an inconvenience,” she said. “It’s just kind of doing your part while it is an issue.”
Two county residents receiving their COVID vaccine shot at the health department Tuesday said they were doing whatever they could to help get back to normal.
Kay Schultz said she doesn’t like wearing her mask or getting a shot but it was what needed to be done so she could see her family.
“I’ve got these great-grandkids that when they have to be quarantined, there’s nobody to watch them so I thought I’ll just get the vaccine, and then I’d at least be able to take care of them if anybody else has to be quarantined,” she said.
Another resident receiving their shot Tuesday was Nancy Jeschke. She said when the mask order was in place, she had no problem with doing her part.
“I think it’s fine because if it’s going to help me and someone else that’s great,” Jeschke said.
She said she hopes cases continue to drop, more people get vaccinated, and that her immunity will be boosted enough to get back to pre-pandemic life.
“I hope I can get out in the yard and do all the things that I would like to do and go all of the places. I’ve only been to church once since March, that bothers me,” Jeschke said.
Schultz is also hopeful that we are seeing the beginning of the end of the pandemic.
“The number one thing I miss is not getting out and doing what you want to do. Everything is closed. The theaters, the things that you take kids to you can’t go to, that kind of stuff,” she said. “I’m hoping it’s closer to normal, what we know normal is and we don’t have to deal with it anymore.”