Wichita mayor says mask order is working

Published: Aug. 11, 2020 at 3:38 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Update Thursday Aug. 13, 2020: Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple touted the extension of the city’s mask ordinance Thursday.

Whipple said that county numbers based on the percentage of COVID-19 tests coming back positive was an indicator of the ordinance working.

After the Fourth of July holiday, the county saw 14% of COVID-19 tests coming back positive – putting it in the “red zone” as classified by the White House. A city or county is considered to be in the red zone at 10% or more. The county is around 10% now.

“If we can bring it back under 10%, not only are we headed in the right direction, we can be reclassified as a yellow zone,” Whipple said.

The county has also seen a decrease in hospitalizations for the first time in six weeks.

Whipple, during a briefing, said that council members were influenced by the death of Lou Schwechheimer to extend the city ordinance.

“Most of us [on the council] has known someone who has died from COVID-19,” Whipple said. “In fact, two weeks ago we had a moment of silence for the co-owner of our Wichita Wind Surge [baseball] team, Lou, who sadly never got to watch the team play or a gamed played in the new stadium that he helped create with his vision because of this disease.”

Whipple also emphasized that numbers need to be brought down before the beginning of the school year. Wichita Public Schools have their first day of school scheduled for after Labor Day.

“So as we get back into the classrooms, as fall comes, we need now more than ever to contain and control the spread of this virus.”

Other countries have been able to contain the spread of COVID-19 by requiring face masks, limiting mass gatherings, and maintaining social distancing, according to Whipple.

“I believe that for some reason we are very fixated on the idea that we need a vaccine before we can control this,” Whipple said. “Other countries have controlled this using these measures we just need to imply all of us the best practices moving forward to stopping the spread of this and if we do so we will hopefully get back to normal faster.”

A face mask is required in all public spaces until Sept. 8.

The Wichita City Council at its meeting Tuesday voted to extend the city ordinance requiring people to wear face masks.

The updated order is expected to sunset at midnight on Tuesday, September 8.

“The ordinance, first enacted on July 3, mandates that face coverings are worn when residents are in any public space where social distancing of six feet at all times is not possible,” the city explained.

Exemptions to the order include those with medical conditions, mental health conditions or disabilities that would preclude them from safely wearing a face covering, customers eating at restaurants and more. Residents may inform business owners and their employees of their medical exemptions and are not required to show documentation from their medical provider.

Copyright 2020 KWCH. All rights reserved.

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