o mask mandate in Platte County.
At a meeting Thursday night, the Platte County Health Department Board of Trustees declined the idea of a mask mandate in its jurisdiction and instead okayed a series of public health recommendations for Platte County.
The county decision is in contrast to areas of Platte County within the city limits of Kansas City. Areas of the county lying within Kansas City are governed by the Kansas City Health Department and therefore must abide by the mask mandate initiated by the City of Kansas City.
The Kansas City mandate is in effect until at least 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 28.
The decision by the Platte County Health Department Board of Trustees was unanimous by the four board members who were present for Thursday nights meeting, held at the Platte City Middle School. Those members are Kent Jackson, Cathy Hill, Kathy Wright, Dr. Jeffrey Kingsley.
Absent was board member Paula Willmarth.
The decision of no mask mandate came despite a presentation from Mary Jo Vernon, director of the health department, who advocated for a mandate.
The decision, which affects the parts of Platte County outside of Kansas City, came after Vernon presented information advocating for a mask mandate as a way to counter the rising number of regional cases. She called on neighbors and leaders to band together despite differences of opinion.
Most of the 13 members of the public who gave input during the meeting were strongly opposed to a mandate. Of those who spoke to the board, nine were against a mask mandate, three supported a mandate and one person said they’d support any decision the board made.
Some public comments included:
Michael Claxton, a Platte City resident, said a new mandate “would only further erode the trust and be counterproductive in increasing vaccination rates.”
Jonathan Buschmann, who lives at Weatherby Lake, asked the board for a choice.
“Let us choose to wear a mask if we think we need to, not because you said so,” Buschmann said. “Let us learn to live with COVID.”
While speaking to the board, one man who supported a mask mandate was interrupted and shouted at by a couple of opponents to a mandate. Some others who were opposed tried to shush those who were shouting comments while the man was speaking.
There were also shouts from opponents while Vernon was reciting COVID statistics.
The recommendations approved by the health board include:
.Receiving the COVID vaccine
.Wearing a mask or face covering, for all aged 5 and above, regardless of current vaccination status
.Those who have been fully vaccinated who have had exposure or suspected exposure should be tested 3-5 days after exposure and should wear a mask in public settings for 14 days until a negative test result is received
.Universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status
Vernon on Thursday said the county is in an area of high transmission, meaning more than 100 positive COVID cases per 100,000 residents in a seven-day period. The current case count stands at 239 per 100,000 residents, with the Delta variant being the dominant threat.
“The Platte County Health Department has the responsibility to provide for and ensure the health, safety and welfare of the people of Platte County,” Vernon remarked at the meeting.
School districts are free to make their own decisions on masks. The Park Hill School District, earlier had with buildings inside the city limits of Kansas City, earlier has said masks will be mandatory in Park Hill school buildings to meet the order announced recently by Mayor Quinton Lucas of Kansas City. But on Monday of this week, Park Hill sent out an email announcing a special school board meeting for Monday, Aug. 16 to “make a decision about masks.” The Aug. 16 meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Park Hill High School auditorium, which will be set up to allow for social distancing. There will be a public comment time at the beginning of the meeting. The meeting will be livestreamed.