Physicians speak in favor of mask mandate in Wichita

In Community Health, Feature by admin

About 10 MSSC members spoke via video conferencing to the Wichita City Council on July 3 in support of a mandatory mask order. The council approved the order on a 4-3 vote.

The number of active COVID-19 cases started increasing not long after the Sedgwick County Commission lifted Gov. Laura Kelly’s phased-reopening plan on May 27. But the active case count and positive test rate began spiking toward the end of June, prompting Kelly to issue a statewide mask mandate.

After the County Commission voted on July 2 to change the governor’s mandate to a “strong recommendation,” Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple called a special meeting of the City Council.

The MSSC physicians raised concerns about the increasing infection numbers and explained how masks are a proven method to reduce transmission. They warned that action was needed before the July 4 holiday.

MSSC President Patricia Wyatt-Harris, MD, said she was speaking on her own behalf, as the MSSC Board of Directors had not voted on whether to support a mandate. She told council members that masks were needed “to keep our economy open and our citizens safe.”

On July 8, Garold Minns, MD, who serves as Sedgwick County’s public health officer, ordered a mask mandate for the entire county and a limit on gathering sizes. He had previously recommended stronger action to curb the spread of the virus, but the County Commission didn’t follow his advice.

“It’s important for our residents and businesses, our whole community, to come together and protect one another from COVID-19 and also enact measures that will allow us to recover economically,” Minns said.