KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- The attorney general in Missouri says he will be will be filing a lawsuit in an effort to halt a mask mandate in the Kansas City area amid a rise in COVID-19 cases that are burdening a growing number of hospitals around the state.

"This mask mandate is about politics and control, not science. You are not subjects but citizens of what has been the freest country in the world and I will always fight for you," Attorney General Eric Schmitt said.

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas responded quickly on Twitter by saying, "Dude, the order hasn’t even been filed yet. What are you suing about? Do you want us to just schedule a debate on Fox News so you can get the press? I’m down!"

A mask mandate effect Monday in the St. Louis area, one of the first to be reinstated in the country. It requires everyone age 5 or older to wear masks in indoor public places and on public transportation in St. Louis city and St. Louis County even if they are vaccinated. That lawsuit said the mandates are “arbitrary and capricious because they require vaccinated individuals to wear masks, despite the CDC guidance that this is not necessary.” It also questions mandating children to wear masks in school, noting they are less likely to become seriously ill.

KCTV5 reached out to attorneys and legal specialists for insight into whether the state can keep local governments from implementing mask mandates.

Allen Rostron, a UMKC Law Professor, said much of Schmitt's lawsuit is based on a statute passed in Missouri in June that restricts public health orders to certain criteria. He said a lawsuit would likely not even go to court before the current mask mandate ends.

He added that Schmitt is also making a philosophical argument against masks.

"He's also making a couple of arguments that are essentially, he doesn't think mask mandates are a good idea," Rostron said. "It's couched in legal terminology, like this is 'unreasonable or arbitrary.'"

Mayor Lucas also commented on Schmitt's pledge to file a lawsuit during a virtual press conference.

"My question for the Attorney General is, if we give him our order, will he give us some guidance on whether it's lawful?" Lucas said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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