Lansing extends mask ordinance

Connie Parish
Special to the Times

Lansing City Council members voted 7-1 Thursday for a mask mandate that runs from Feb. 1 through March 31. The current mask mandate expires Sunday. Council member Jesse Garvey cast the dissenting vote.

Council members had received at least two emails from people who debunked the value of masks in preventing the spread of COVID-19. But council member Gregg Buhler said he has received much more support of extending the mandate.

The newest council member, Ron Dixon, asked if it would be hard to rescind if the pandemic were to end before then. Mayor Tony McNeill said it would take a special meeting, as council members called for Thursday.

Dixon, an associate minister, said the mother of their congregation had just died from the virus, the second member in his church to die from COVID-19. He believes wearing a mask is a “minor inconvenience” to protect people and it is temporary.

Council member Gene Kirby cited statistics from the local and state health departments indicating the number of cases is trending down, something he believes correlates with mask ordinances in Lansing, Leavenworth and Tonganoxie.

The ordinance, Kirby pointed out, calls for no curfews or closings, simply wearing masks. He said several businesses he had visited indicated they were glad the city had passed the measure earlier.

Council member Kerry Brungardt said he had paid attention to the science, which seems to indicate masks “make a huge difference.” Though he understands “COVID fatigue has set in,” he believes it’s worth it to “hang on a little longer and do what we’re supposed to do.”

Council members Dave Trinkle and Marcus Majure also expressed support for the measure.

Garvey said he had always been opposed to the mandate, as he believes people and businesses should have the right to make up their own mind. He wonders if the downward trends might be the result of people catching the virus and developing immunity.

After the special session, council members conducted a work session. Topics discussed during that meeting were projects proposed by the wastewater department, the codification of maintenance agreements with Leavenworth County and events planned for the spring and summer that may have to be curtailed. All will be discussed at future meetings.