Douglas County issues mask mandate in public spaces, beginning Wednesday
photo by: Contributed Photo
Story updated at 5 p.m. Monday:
After more than 30 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed over the weekend, Douglas County will soon require everyone in public spaces to wear a mask when social distancing is not possible.
Beginning at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, masks will be required throughout Douglas County in public spaces such as retail or grocery stores, workplaces and public facilities such as community centers or libraries, county health officer Dr. Thomas Marcellino said.
“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,” Marcellino said in a news release. “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.”
The mask-wearing order exempts people who are deaf or hard of hearing, children younger than 5 years old and those with a medical condition or disability that prevents wearing a face covering.
Douglas County has reported 159 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, local officials said Monday — an increase of 35 cases since Friday — and 92 of those people have recovered. The uptick in cases means the county needs to be more vigilant, Marcellino said.
“We want to set ourselves up to be in a better place when school starts back in August,” he said. “We need to slow the spread now.”
Anyone in need of a cloth mask can fill out a form on the county website and the United Way of Douglas County may be able to provide one, the release said.
Douglas County remains in Phase 3 of the state reopening plan — which limits gatherings to 45 people — through at least July 5.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s online map noted that 6,009 Douglas County residents have been tested for the disease so far. The county’s testing rate per 1,000 people was 49.1.
One patient at Lawrence’s hospital had COVID-19 on Monday.