WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — The state of Kansas no longer has a mask mandate in place. Here in Sedgwick County, health director Adrienne Byrne believes it could impact the COVID-19 numbers in the Wichita area.
“We’ll have to wait and see. It is still recommended for people to maintain a six-foot distance, wear the mask, and wash their hands,” Byrne explained.
One Wichita pediatrician is concerned by Thursday’s vote.
“I am saddened by foolish decisions to not push us across the finish line but fumble hard,” Dr. Amy Seery said.
On the opposite side of this debate, Kansas State Senate Majority Leader Ty Masterson says this decision was data-driven.
“One, the data. We’re a tenth of where we were when the first mask mandate went in. Second, is the people of Kansas are reaching out,” said Sen. Masterson. “The emails to our legislative addresses are ten to one probably more than that I haven’t had the last polling numbers. Three would be yesterday the Kansas Senate passed a resolution by a supermajority calling on the LCC to revoke the mandate and the day before the house had done a similar thing and passed a resolution supermajority. So, I feel like we are listening to the Kansas people.”
Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple disagrees with that reasoning.
“We have legislators, people who have no medical training at all who are telling medical doctors that they don’t know what they’re talking about,” Mayor Whipple added. “Because these guys are elected so now, they’re the smartest guys in the room. It’s too bad.”
Mayor Whipple says the only chance Wichita would have to restore a mask mandate locally is through a majority vote by the city council, but currently, he does not have the votes to make that happen.
Instead, Sedgwick County and the City of Wichita are now focusing on the next step, vaccinations.
“It’s okay to be ambivalent, but it does make a difference,” Byrne explained. “It’s not just for ourselves. It helps us get back to that normalcy that all of us are craving.”