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Kansas City Health Departments: Unvaccinated Residents Should Wear Masks Again

Truman Medical Centers/University Health employees visit businesses in River Market, trying to get people to schedule vaccinations for their employees.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Truman Medical Centers/University Health employees visit businesses in River Market, trying to get people to schedule vaccinations for their employees.

Health department across the Kansas City area advise a return to wearing face masks for people who are unvaccinated against COVID-19 or have underlying medical conditions.

An advisory issued on Fridaysaid that preventive measures are needed to slow an increase in new coronavirus cases in the Kansas City region.

“Currently, only 40% of Missourians are fully vaccinated. Please assume that 1 in 2 people in any crowd or gathering may be unvaccinated,” the advisory reads.

An average of nearly 1,800 new COVID-19 cases are being reported in Missouri each day — twice as many as were reported two weeks ago.

New cases and hospitalizations have been increasing in the Kansas City area, with an average of 77 coronavirus patients newly hospitalized every day. That is nearly double the number at the start of June.

Vaccine rates in much of the Kansas City area lag even further behind the state, with just 38.1% of Kansas City, Missouri, residents completing their vaccinations.

The health departments recommended masks for unvaccinated people indoors and at crowded outdoor events, as well as when in close contact with others who are unvaccinated.

“If unvaccinated, being in crowds like restaurants, bars, fitness centers, or movie theaters puts you at a higher risk for COVID-19," the advisory states. "Avoid indoor spaces that do not offer fresh air from the outdoors as much as possible."

Officials also called for people who have underlying medical conditions to wear masks, even if they are vaccinated. These individuals may not receive full protection through vaccination.

Kansas City, Missouri, lifted mask requirements in May, and other municipalities have also removed similar rules, although the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention has continued to recommend masks for unvaccinated people.

The health departments urged all residents 12 and older to get vaccinated immediately or to complete vaccinations that they've already started.

"The COVID-19 vaccines have been proven to significantly reduce the risk of serious illness, hospitalization and death," the advisory reads.

On Friday, the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment also issued on guidance to public schools that included mask requirements for students who are not fully vaccinated.

“Although transmission of the virus has decreased substantially compared to this time last year, we must remain vigilant,” said JCDHE director Dr. Sanmi Areola in a statement.

Copyright 2021 KCUR 89.3

Alex Smith began working in radio as an intern at the National Association of Farm Broadcasters. A few years and a couple of radio jobs later, he became the assistant producer of KCUR's magazine show, KC Currents. In January 2014 he became KCUR's health reporter.