July 28, 2021 5:07 p.m.

Jackson County Executive Frank White, Jr. has issued the following statement on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s updated mask guidance:

“Once again, we are faced with a very serious situation as COVID-19, in its many forms, is overwhelming our community. Since far too many people in our region remain unvaccinated, some of our most vulnerable community members, such as children, senior citizens, cancer patients and others with weakened immune systems face an increased risk of serious illness or even death.

“Over the last two days, we have discussed the metro’s increasing case numbers and the possibility of reinstating mask orders in Jackson County with key stakeholders, including many of our area superintendents, public health officials, regional leaders and our partners in St. Louis to ensure we are making science-based decisions that are in the best interest of public health.

“We are aware of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) latest recommendation that includes masking regardless of vaccination status in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission, such as our region, as well as universal indoor masking in K-12 schools regardless of vaccination status. Kansas City and Independence, the two cities within Jackson County that are not subject to our public health orders, have decided to take different approaches to the CDC’s guidance. While the City of Kansas City will require masking through a public health order, the City of Independence has decided to recommend that residents follow the guidance but will not require masking through their public health authority at this time.  

“The Jackson County Health Department and I fully support the CDC’s recommendations and are asking that everyone in our region follow the recommendations regardless of where you live, work or play. Masks have proven to prevent the spread of the virus. And until more people get vaccinated in our community, each of us should do everything we can to keep ourselves, our friends and our families safe. 

“Finally, we must also take into consideration a new state law that limits local government’s authority to impose public health orders which has led to a chaotic and confusing situation for the residents of St. Louis County. In the coming days, I will work with my colleagues on the Jackson County Legislature to determine the best path forward for Jackson County and will continue to work with our regional partners in the hopes of aligning our orders to reduce confusion and increase the impact of our actions.”