November 20, 2020
In light of worsening COVID-19 situation, City adopts face covering resolution
At its Thursday evening meeting, the Independence City Commission adopted a resolution supporting Gov. Laura Kelly’s new executive order once again requiring face coverings in public spaces in an effort to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
Like many other states across the country, Kansas has recently experienced a spike in COVID-19 positive cases, hospitalizations and deaths, Gov. Kelly noted in a Wednesday afternoon press conference. She reported a significant strain being placed on hospitals and health care resources across the state due to a steady influx of COVID-positive patients with serious illness. As Kansas hospitals have filled up, patients are having to be transported out of state for care, and a physician associated with Wesley Medical Center in Wichita estimated that one in every 10 COVID patients hospitalized there dies, the governor said.
David Cowan, Independence Assistant City Manager/Emergency Care Director, said Montgomery County and the surrounding region are experiencing similar trends, with hospitals at or reaching capacity and the availability of health care workers running low. COVID-19 has taken a toll on the City’s own staffing, with positive cases reported in the Fire/EMS, Police and other departments in recent weeks, resulting in the quarantining of several employees and forcing the closure of the Memorial Hall facility.
“COVID-19 just is not slowing down,” Cowan said. “Now that we are approaching winter and the flu season has begun, the forecast is for more and more illness. And while vaccine availability appears to be somewhat promising within the next several months, the only proven ways to slow the virus at this time is by wearing masks when in public or crowded areas and social distancing to greatest extent possible.
“Moreover, the only way these measures will work effectively is if everyone cooperates. I know that is a tall order, and there are many opinions out there on all sides of the mask wearing concept, but the fact is, if we don’t act responsibly, we will lose more neighbors and loved ones and the businesses in our community will continue to suffer.
“It’s not about infringing on your rights, it’s about protecting the health of our community the best way we know how at this moment in time.”
Independence Mayor Leonhard Caflisch added, “The purpose of the resolution is to draw our attention to the seriousness of the coronavirus. The Commission hopes that everyone complies with the governor's executive order so that we can slow the spread.
“Should we continue to have high infection rates, additional action might be necessary. This would include adopting a City ordinance that would mandate compliance and provide enforcement action that would include fines and would also limit the number allowed in gatherings.
“The choice is ours, either we stop the virus by complying with the executive order, or we will have to take more strict action. By wearing a mask, you are expressing your concern for others. Thank you for your cooperation.”
Gov. Kelly’s executive order takes effect Wednesday, November 25. The full order can be found on the City of Independence website at www.independenceks.gov.