Saline County Commission approves mask mandate
WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - In a 3-2 vote Wednesday afternoon, the Saline County Commission voted in favor of making masks mandatory for the public within the county’s limits. The mandate takes effect at midnight Thursday (July 9).
Last week, the commission voted not to enforce Kansas Governor Laura Kelly’s mask mandate and instead made wearing a mask to safeguard against COVID-19 when social distancing isn’t possible a recommendation rather than a requirement. After the City of Salina decided to enforce a mask order locally, and considering a recent spike in COVID-19 cases across much of Kansas, the Saline County County commission revisited the issue.
Saline County’s vote followed an order from Sedgwick County Health Director Dr. Garold Minns for people to wear masks in public in Sedgwick County. He also ordered the county to comply with Phase Three of Governor Kelly’s reopening plan which limits mass-gathering sizes to 45.
Eyewitness News Wednesday sat down with Saline County Commission Chair Robert Vidricksen, the lone commissioner to initially vote in favor of a mask mandate last week.
“Number one, our meeting last week was less than two hours after the governor’s mandate came down,” he said of the commission’s decision at that time to make mask-wearing a recommendation only. “We didn’t have time to study it, and we didn’t have time to take it in or whatever. And I think that’s one of the biggest reasons my fellow commissioners voted ‘no.' I’m not trying to put words in their mouths, but I know it was very important.”
Vidricksen said after Saline County saw a rise in cases over the weekend and the City of Salina voted to mandate masks, he encouraged the other commissioners to revisit the issue, and that’s why they met Wednesday.
On July 28, commissioners will evaluate the county’s overall efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and will look at either extending or ending the mask mandate.
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