Kansas sees 21 new counties add mask mandates

Published: Nov. 24, 2020 at 3:37 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Governor Kelly’s mask order goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 25.

With Governor Laura Kelly’s new Kansas mask order going into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 21 Kansas counties have already created their own mask mandates, according to the Kansas City Star. It said this almost doubles the number of counties that created mask mandates in July after Gov. Kelly’s first order.

The Star said at least 48 counties now have adopted a mask mandate, showing that many counties that originally opposed the mandate are now embracing it.

Gov. Kelly said counties that do not take action and create their own mask mandate will be automatically covered in hers starting at 12:01 on Wednesday. She said counties could opt out of the order, which some have done, or approve their own mandate as long as they are in place by the deadline.

According to Gov. Kelly, the adoption of face mask orders in counties has been “pretty good” so far.

“We got very little pushback this time around,” Kelly said to reporters. “I think it’s because people are so much more aware of how serious this is, how widespread it is. And it is no longer an urban issue, I mean it’s clearly from border to border.”

The new mandates come just in time for Thanksgiving, which health experts have been warning the Kansas governor about, worrying the holiday will spur another rise in cases. With COVID-19 cases soaring, hospitals are beginning to see maximum capacities being broken.

“Our numbers were kind of awful over the weekend,” Steve Stites, chief medical officer at the University of Kansas Health System, said Tuesday during a media briefing. The hospital hit a record 100 patients with active COVID-19 cases on Monday, but the number fell slightly to 93 on Tuesday.

Riley County originally opted out of Governor Kelly’s face mask mandate in July while Manhattan quickly approved its own mandate, but now the county has issued its own order after seeing almost 1,000 cases in November according to Riley Co. health officials.

“We are seeing a lot of community spread in Riley County, and it was clear that a county-wide mask mandate was needed,” the health officer, Julie Gibbs, said in a statement.

Even though Riley County Commissioner Marvin Rodriguez compared the mandate to Nazi Germany, the commission did not override the order during its meeting on Monday.

Gov. Kelly said her push for masks is partnered with a public campaign to urge the usage of masks.

According to the Kansas City Star, the campaign’s first ad was aired on Monday and shows an older gentleman holding a mask saying, “this is a tool. It says nothing about my politics. I wear it to protect the people that I love.”

According to the Kansas Department of Emergency Management, 56 counties currently do not have a mask order.

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