Officials back off from mask mandate

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly and top Republican legislators agreed Tuesday to try for now to encourage Kansas counties to adopt local mask mandates rather than consider a statewide rule as the state experiences its biggest surge in new coronavirus cases of the pandemic.

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October 29, 2020 - 7:34 AM

Gov. Laura Kelly reveals details of her mask mandate talks with legislative leadership during a news briefing Wednesday at the Statehouse.

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly and top Republican legislators agreed Tuesday to try for now to encourage Kansas counties to adopt local mask mandates rather than consider a statewide rule as the state experiences its biggest surge in new coronavirus cases of the pandemic.

Kelly had a private Zoom meeting with eight leaders of the GOP-controlled Legislature, six of them Republicans, and participants said afterward that they discussed encouraging greater mask use despite the number of coronavirus cases reaching record levels. 

Kelly issued a statewide mask mandate July 2, but a state law enacted only the month before allowed the state’s 105 counties to opt out, and most did. The Democratic governor said last week that she wanted to work with top Republican lawmakers on a bipartisan mandate to require people to wear masks in public.

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