From the beginning of this pandemic the Jackson County Health Department, along with the County Executive, and more recently the County Legislature, has acted with impunity in their oversight of public health policy, and without requesting input from the elected officials in the communities they serve, or consideration of the impact their decisions have on those communities.
The justification communicated to the public and in the language of the health orders has revolved around the necessity of their actions due to the overriding health risk posed based on the data, and the expected remediation as a result. However, the most recent action taken this week by the County Legislature to extend the mask mandate is a clear departure from these expressed objectives, and was seemingly not done in good faith.
According to the numbers from the Jackson County Health Department, the weekly percent positive tests have not been over 10% since early September, and are comparable to the numbers in June two months before the implementation of the newest mask mandate. The percent change in number of cases has dropped 34% compared to 4 weeks ago, and there hasn’t been a COVID-19 related death in nearly a month. These number do not reflect an evidence-based approach to justify the actions taken by the County Legislature this week, and with the update to the Kansas City mandate on Thursday, Jackson County remains the only jurisdiction not only in the region, but the entire State of Missouri with a similar mandate.
Last year in September 2020, the Blue Springs City Council passed a resolution expressing support for the stakeholders and constituents we represent. In the background statement of the resolution it was outlined that “While we respect and appreciate the County’s management of this difficult and unprecedented public health crisis, it is the opinion of the sponsors of this Resolution, that some policies are simply too restrictive for organizations and businesses and do not align with other policies and practices that have been implemented in the City of Kansas City Missouri as well as the State of Missouri. This creates confusion throughout the region and frustration by constituents and local elected officials representing multiple local governmental entities.”
The political persuasion and views of an elected official should not impact a decision so broad and sweeping as a public health order. We have watched as the actions of the County Executive and County Legislature have had an unjustified negative impact on our community’s economy, and as we head into the holiday season, that is likely to only be compounded. As the Blue Springs City Council pursues the possibility of creating our own health department, or other ways to regain autonomy to make decisions for our residents, we the undersigned renew our statement made in Blue Springs City Council Resolution No. 71-2020, and call on the County Legislature to respond at its earliest possibility:
“The Mayor and City Council of Blue Springs, Missouri express their support for local businesses, schools, and organizations during this challenging period and would urge the Jackson County Health Department to relax its COVID-19 recovery polices and implement policies similar to those adopted by the City of Kansas City Missouri as well as the State of Missouri.”
Councilmember Jerry Kaylor, District 1
Councilmember Galen Ericson,
District 1Councilmember Kent Edmondson,
District 2Councilmember Chris Lievsay,
District 2Councilmember Ron Fowler,
District 3Councilmember Susan Culpepper,
District 3 (Mayor Ross is unavailable due to a family emergency)