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Russell County Commission approves public health order on masks, City of Russell shows formal support

Published: Nov. 19, 2020 at 6:41 PM CST
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RUSSELL, Kan. (KWCH) - Update Monday, Nov. 23, 2020: The Russell County Commission in a meeting Friday (Nov. 20) approved a resolution to opt into Kansas Governor Laura Kelly’s executive order requiring face masks in public. The three-member commission approved the resolution, 2-1. From there, also on Friday, the Russell City Council passed a resolution in support of the county decision.

The county commission agreed to review the matter next month.

Like many of Kansas’ counties, Russell County is seeing an increase in positive COVID-19 cases, as well as an increase in testing demands. The discussion about bucking the COVID-19 trend includes consideration of a mask mandate. Russell County’s consideration follows Kansas Governor Laura Kelly enacting an order for a second statewide mask requirement. The order calls for counties across the state to enact their own face-covering requirements.

“I think (Governor Kelly is) looking at the numbers and she sees that they’re not going in the right direction and she feels she has to do something, and I respect her for doing that,” Russell County Commissioner Stever Reinhardt said.

Reinhardt said he is in favor of a mask mandate, but not for enforcing the mandate.

“My objection is the law-enforcement component of it,” he said. “I’m fine with everything else, but I don’t wanna throw our law enforcement into this situation.”

Reinhardt said that regardless of whether masks are required in public places in Russell County, he believes some people would not follow the mandate.

“Some will participate and some won’t,” he said. “That’s part of the situation.”

Reinhardt said he understands the seriousness of the pandemic because his father recently died from the virus.

Eyewitness News also spoke with Russell County Commissioner Aaron Steinart who said he doesn’t think many of the county’s small businesses would be able to survive another shutdown. He believes if everyone wore a mask when social distancing isn’t possible, it could make an impact and help to slow the spread of COVID-19.

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