Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas issued an order Friday requiring all people in the city to wear masks when going inside area businesses and public buildings. The order takes effect Monday.
In the days leading up to the mayor’s announcement, the Kansas City area registered record numbers of confirmed new cases of COVID-19. The area saw 194 new cases on Wednesday and 227 on Thursday, both records. To date, there have been almost 7,000 confirmed cases and 227 deaths in the metro area.
The mayor’s order will not be enforced by the police, but rather reported by businesses and citizens. Businesses and public buildings not in compliance will receive citations enforced by the city’s health department. In addition, businesses have been asked to refuse service to customers who do not wear masks.
Exceptions to the order will be made for young children, the disabled that cannot feasibly wear a mask, those with breathing conditions and people who are actively consuming food or drinks at a restaurant.
Dr. Rex Archer, the city’s health director, spoke about the necessity of wearing masks, using an analogy about wearing a hat to protect himself from getting skin cancer from the summer sun.
“I wear this hat to protect myself from skin cancer. It’s a simple thing that I need to do. When I wear the hat, because I wear the hat, I do not rage against the sun for being the sun. I simply protect myself by wearing the hat,” Archer said. “It’s the same with the mask. I do not rage against the virus. By wearing the mask, I simply protect myself and others.”
The order will be effective until July 12, with revisions to be made as needed during that time by Lucas. He said Friday afternoon during a press conference announcing the order that he wanted to find a way to keep businesses open while still keeping the public safe.
“How can you keep businesses open and how can you reopen businesses? The simplest, sharpest, fastest way is by making sure that people wear masks,” Lucas said.
Lucas touted an incident at a Springfield Great Clips earlier this month as evidence for the effectiveness of wearing masks. Two hair stylists at the salon tested positive for COVID-19 after coming into contact with over 140 people, but they both had worn masks the entire time. No positive cases were reported among people exposed to the stylists, and this instance has become a major case in favor of wearing masks.
In a livestream of the press conference shown on the mayor’s Facebook page, viewers commented on the new guidelines. Those in favor of wearing masks expressed excitement about the news and urged all people to follow the new guidelines. Opponents criticized the order, and its supporters, and filled the comments with their criticisms.