The Paola City Council, in a 3-2 vote on July 14, approved an ordinance that requires masks to be worn in public spaces. Mask mandates were a hot topic during 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whether or not governmental entities should be allowed to mandate the wearing of masks in public places was a controversial topic throughout the country in 2020, and Miami County was no exception.

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly issued a statewide mask mandate in July to try and lessen the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, but local county commissions were given the option to opt out of the mandate because of a bill that limited Kelly’s power.

At that time, the Miami County Commission chose to opt out of the statewide mandate, joining more than 80 other Kansas counties to do so.

Miami County commissioners did encourage residents to wear masks, and they allowed local cities and school districts to implement their own requirements. The cities of Paola, Osawatomie and Spring Hill all implemented mask mandates, but Louisburg did not.

In November, Gov. Kelly issued another statewide mask mandate, and this time the Miami County Commission reversed course and decided to not opt out of it. That meant that all areas of Miami County, including the unincorporated areas, went under the statewide mask mandate beginning Nov. 25.

Residents from throughout the county spoke for and against the mandate during the November meeting before the Miami County commissioners made their decision.

Commissioner Tyler Vaughan made a motion to opt out of the mask mandate, and it was seconded by Commissioner Danny Gallagher, but the other three commissioners voted against the motion, and it failed 3-2.

Editor and Publisher Brian McCauley can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or brian.mccauley@miconews.com.

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