KANSAS CITY – As discussions of county mask mandates have become more prevalent in recent months, many who are opposed continue to question if the mandates work, or if their main purpose is virtue signaling for positive media coverage.
Jackson County, Missouri has been a prominent county whose elected officials have continued to reinstate mandates. The County reinstated its indoor mask requirement for those who are at least 5 years old, regardless of vaccination status, on Aug. 9.
However, a new state law limits local officials from implementing emergency health orders extending longer than 30 days. Because of this new law, Jackson County officials are forced to vote to reinstate the county mask mandate roughly once a month, which they did on Aug. 30 by extending the requirement until 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 7.
According to the CDC’s website, from Sept. 21 to Sept. 27 Jackson County, Missouri recorded 1,671 COVID-19 cases, 49 deaths, a 9.52% positivity rate and 194 new hospital admissions after almost two months of mandated indoor masking.
A large portion of the Kansas City Metropolitan area is located in Jackson County, Missouri. But, it’s worth noting that the city has several suburbs located across the river in Johnson County, Kansas. Particularly, the County includes Overland Park, which is the second most populous city of the metro area.
In a clear contradiction, Johnson County, Kansas – who does not currently have a mask mandate – seems to be having an easier time containing the spread of the virus than mask-mandated Jackson County. From Sept. 21 to Sept. 27, Johnson County recorded 999 COVID-19 cases, 10 deaths, 86 new hospital admissions and a positivity rate of 5.64%.
Jackson County has a population of roughly 700,000 while Johnson County has a population of just over 600,000, and it’s reasonable to assume the higher population will have a higher number of COVID-19 cases. However, a significant distinction noted by many is the fact that Jackson County has almost double the infection rate of Johnson County, even after enforcing a mask requirement since Aug. 9.
As noted before, the seemingly unproven benefits of county mask mandates has been one of the main driving factors for those who are opposed to the county directives. This has led to citizens and elected officials vowing to fight attempts to mandate face coverings indoors.
Specifically, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, a candidate for U.S. Senate in 2022, has passionately challenged mask mandates in court in recent months. After Jackson County officials voted to extend the indoor mandates in August, Schmitt filed suit against the officials, arguing the mandate is “unlawful, arbitrary, and capricious”. The suit is still pending.
Additionally, after being granted a temporary halt on St. Louis county’s mask mandate last month, a judge sealed the deal for Schmitt by definitively blocking the mandate on Aug. 19.
“Jackson County’s mask mandate is yet another attempt by government officials to obtain, aggregate, and maintain power,” Schmitt said. “Requiring residents to wear a mask, especially in the face of a widely available vaccine, is ridiculous. My Office will continue to fight against government overreach and intrusion.”