DOUGLAS COUNTY, KS (KCTV) — Douglas County has joined the growing list of local governments implanting mask requirements in public as a way to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
A new county health order issued Monday will require people to wear a mask in all indoor public spaces beginning Wednesday at 12:01 a.m. This applies to businesses, workplaces and public facilities like community centers and libraries.
There are exceptions to the rule, including for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, children younger than 5 and those with medical conditions, mental health conditions of a physical disability that would prevent them from wearing a face mask.
Mask will also not be required in an individual’s office, and they are not required when eating or drinking, though people are recommended to stay socially distant and wear a mask before and after dining.
Like other places moving to require masks, Douglas County officials say the decision was made after seeing spikes in COVID-19 cases as communities began to reopen.
“Unfortunately, we have seen a steady increase of cases in recent weeks, including localized outbreaks and more than 30 new cases over the past weekend — numbers we had not experienced locally during the pandemic,” Douglas County’s Local Health Officer Dr. Thomas Marcellino said. “Wearing masks and cloth face coverings is based on sound science that shows this practice will help slow the spread and decrease the transmission of COVID-19.”
In addition to Douglas County, Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, have a new mask rule that goes into effect on Tuesday, June 30. There is no word yet if Johnson County will implement a mask requirement.
Across the state line a mask requirement started on Monday, June 29 in Kansas City, while the rest of Jackson County will be under such orders starting on July 1.
Marcellino noted in the release announcing the new order that county officials hope to better contain the disease before parents begin to face the decision of sending their students back to school in the fall.
“We want to set ourselves up to be in a better place when school starts back in August. We need to slow the spread now,” he said. “It is important for everyone to follow this important and effective public health measure of wearing a mask in indoor spaces where proper social distancing is not possible.”