Some Johnson County cities have tweaked their mask rules for municipal employees and others say they are reevaluating their protocols, as the Kansas City region continues to weather an ongoing increase in new COVID-19 cases driven by the Delta variant.
Last week, the CDC issued revised guidance recommending all people wear masks in indoor public spaces in areas of “high” or “substantial” COVID-19 transmission, even if they are fully vaccinated.
The entire Kansas City region is currently experiencing a “high” rate of COVID-19 spread, according to the CDC.
That prompted some cities in the metro, including Kansas City, Mo., and North Kansas City, to reinstitute citywide mask mandates for all individuals in most public places.
At the moment, no Johnson County city is going that far.
Currently, the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment strongly recommends that individuals wear masks in indoor public spaces, and many cities say they are sticking with that guidance for now.
The county commission is expected to discuss potentially issuing a new countywide mask mandate at Thursday’s regular meeting, though no commissioner last week showed much enthusiasm for the idea.
The Shawnee Mission Post reached out to cities in our coverage are in northern Johnson County to see what their current mask policies are.
These are the responses we have received so far:
- In an emailed statement, City Administrator Scott Lambers said Leawood “has no plans at this time” to adjust its current mask guidance, which continues to follow the county’s guidance that masks be strongly recommended indoors.
- The city says it continues to follow the county’s guidance that masks be recommended — but not required — in public spaces.
- “At this point no changes have been made. We have been following the guidelines of the County. I have not seen them do anything official yet,” city spokesperson Denise Rendina said in an email to the Post.
- The city is strongly recommending the public wears face masks in city facilities, including the Merriam Community Center. The city updated its policy following new CDC guidance — which the city has been following since the beginning of the pandemic, according to its Facebook.
- City employees are wearing masks in inside office buildings, as well.
- The city is “currently evaluating” its mask rules, according to an email from City Administrator Laura Smith.
- Smith went on to say she “anticipates there will be some changes following our committee meeting on Wednesday.”
- Currently, the city’s website says it is following the county’s guidance that masks are strongly recommend in indoor public spaces.
- City spokesperson Sean Reilly said in an email, “The city is monitoring the evolving health situation, talking with health officials and will take timely and appropriate action.”
- Currently, the city encourages members of the public to socially distance and wear masks in public as much as possible to prevent the spread of the disease.
- The city instituted a revised mask policy Friday that requires city employees to wear masks “[a]t all times outside of your immediate, individual work area or if the individual work area is less than 6 feet apart from someone else.”
- Employees will also be required to wear masks when “interacting with the public indoors.”
- Masks will not be required when outside or when indoor work spaces are socially distanced and/or not public-facing.
- Members of the public will be “strongly encouraged to wear masks in city buildings (masks will be provided),” according to an email from City Administrator Wes Jordan.
- The city is now requiring all city employees to wear face masks “in any indoor public interaction or when 6 feet of distance is not possible,” according to an email from City Administrator Erin Winn.
- The city says it is “strongly recommending” members of the public wear face masks inside public buildings, in line with JCDHE recommendations.
- Starting Monday, all city employees will be required to wear masks and leave up to six feet of social distance indoors when possible, according to city communications manager Julie Breithaupt.
- “We are strongly encouraging masks inside our City facilities for the public and elected officials and are continuing to monitor any potential updates from Johnson County regarding new mask mandates,” Breaihaupt said in an email.
- City administrator Leslie Herring said that city staff have been asked to begin wearing face masks again “when away from their work stations or when in close proximity to others” inside public buildings.
- The city also rehung signs on city hall, asking visitors to wear a face mask inside, regardless of vaccination status.
- In an emailed statement, Herring said, “We plan to maintain this policy until either the CDC guidance no longer recommends it or until Johnson County is no longer considered to be an area of high (or substantial) transmission.”