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Kansas City mayor to reimpose mask mandate

Kansas City mayor to reimpose mask mandate

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Veterans Tiny Homes

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas attends an event announcing the construction of tiny homes for homeless veterans Friday, Oct. 16, 2020, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said he will reimpose a mask mandate, citing rising COVID-19 cases. 

In a tweet at 8:49 p.m. Tuesday, he said: “I have stuck with CDC guidance throughout the pandemic and today is no different.

“I will return Kansas City to a mask mandate indoors based upon national and regional health guidance and discussion with other Kansas City leaders. I will provide further details in the morning.”

Just two days ago, during an appearance on Face the Nation, Lucas was asked whether he would reinstate a mandate, following the lead of St. Louis and St. Louis County. He said “thus far, it is not necessary for Kansas City.”

Lucas, however, said he was considering requiring Kansas City’s about 5,000 city employees to get vaccinated. On Tuesday, St. Louis Mayor Tishaura O. Jones also said she was weighing such a requirement for city employees.

Mayor Q @QuintonLucasKC · 21m I have stuck with CDC guidance throughout the pandemic and today is no different. I will return Kansas City to a mask mandate indoors based upon national and regional health guidance and discussion with other Kansas City leaders. I will provide further details in the morning.

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Our earlier story, from the Kansas City Star, posted Sunday at 4:30 p.m.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As the delta variant of the COVID-19 virus continues to overwhelm Missouri hospitals, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas appeared on national television Sunday and continued to urge people to get vaccinated.

During an interview with Face the Nation on CBS, Lucas called Kansas City’s vaccination numbers “painfully low” and said efforts are being made to reach out to more young people, especially young men of color.

As of Sunday, only 38.8% of the city’s population was fully vaccinated, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. Nationwide, 49% of the population is fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Earlier this month, 10 Kansas City-area hospitals and health officials issued a joint public health advisory recommending members of the public wear masks. Kansas City lifted its mask mandate in May. St Louis returns to a mask mandate beginning Monday.

Unvaccinated individuals should wear a mask while visiting indoor public places, crowded outdoor settings, and for activities with close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated, according to the Kansas City advisory.

Asked about reinstating a mask mandate, as St. Louis did, Lucas said again Sunday that “thus far, it is not necessary for Kansas City.”

But Lucas said he is considering requiring all of Kansas City’s about 5,000 city employees to get vaccinated.

He added that the city continues to work with hospital leadership and state officials to help out with vaccine outreach.

Kansas City hospitals

Kansas City hospitals were recently treating the most COVID-19 patients since fall of 2020, an area health expert said Friday.

When asked Sunday if, like Springfield’s mayor, he would consider asking the governor for extra space to handle the uptick in COVID patients, Lucas said “absolutely.”

“None of us wanted to be in this position,” Lucas said. “That’s why we have been pushing and clamoring for months for positive messages about vaccines, but certainly now making sure that we’re ready with hospital resources in case we need more and more ICU space to address the current crisis.”

Approximately 300 COVID-19 patients were being treated in metro hospitals as of Thursday, hitting a new high-water mark, according to a Friday letter from Dr. Robert D. Simari, executive vice chancellor of the University of Kansas Medical Center.

Saint Luke’s Health System late last week reported twice as many COVID patients hospitalized compared to one month ago, hospital officials said. On Friday there were 82 COVID patients hospitalized across the 16 entities within the hospital’s health system.

On Friday, the area encompassing Kansas City and Jackson, Clay and Platte counties in Missouri and Johnson and Wyandotte counties in Kansas gained 529 new cases for a total of 156,548 to date. Over the past week, the metro added 2,608 new cases.

The seven-day rolling average for new cases rose from 340 to 373, according to data tracked by The Star. The average has not been this high since Feb. 4. One week ago, the average sat at 262 and two weeks ago, it was 155.

The metro also added one death on Friday, raising the total to 2,314 since the pandemic began.

Gun violence in Kansas City

Lucas on Sunday morning was also asked about last year’s record number of homicides in Kansas City, a separate epidemic city officials are batting alongside the coronavirus.

So far this year, the city has tallied 86 homicides, according to data maintained by The Star. Last year, Kansas City suffered the highest number of homicides in the city’s history, recording 182.

Lucas said the biggest challenge to combating the homicides is firearms, adding that the city needs an ATF that works with local officials to fight firearms trafficking.

Jackson County recently joined St. Louis and St. Louis County in a lawsuit filed last month challenging a new state law that forbids Missouri law enforcement agencies from enforcing certain federal gun laws.

“Red states in the south and the Midwest, they pass new laws that prohibit or make it a crime for our local law enforcement to work with federal agencies on certain issues, particularly as it relates to gun trafficking,” he said.

Lucas said community outreach programs, especially for young people, are important in working to stem gun violence. He said keeping those programs running in-person is just one more incentive to get the vaccine.

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