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Kansas’ largest county considers allowing mask order to end

April 23, 2021 GMT

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — Elected officials in Kansas’ largest county are considering whether to get rid of a mask mandate, as a growing number of communities have done in recent weeks, and health officials aren’t opposing the move.

The issue goes before the Johnson County commission next Thursday, one day before the current mask order is set to expire, WDAF-TV reports.

“As long as it is very clear to everyone that we have not achieved heard immunity and that we have a lot of work to do, and that wearing masks continue to be important, we’ll be supportive of moving to strongly recommend masks,” said Dr. Sanmi Areola, the Director of the Johnson County Health Department. “There’s a lot of variables here that we can’t fully predict. And I think the prudent thing to do is for the board to be ready to take actions if and when they become necessary.”

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The county’s current order includes a goal of vaccinating about 50% of the county’s residents who are 16 and older with at least one dose before lifting the mask mandate. Currently, that number stands at 45%, Areola said.

Other counties that have ditched or weakened mask orders in recent weeks include Sedgwick County in the Wichita area and Shawnee County in the Topeka area.