New mask amendment will apply to exercising indoors and children over 5 in day care and school

The seven-day rolling average of positive COVID-19 cases in Wyandotte County showed some increases recently. (From UG COVID-19 webpage)

Wear a mask when you exercise at the gym and make sure your child over 5 wears one, too, when in day care.

Wyandotte County has amended its mask order to include indoor exercising at gyms and also to include children over 5 in day care or school, according to a news release from the Unified Government Health Department.

The amendment takes effect in a few hours, at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, July 15.

With the exception of the two new amendments, and another amendment defining public work spaces, the rest of Gov. Laura Kelly’s mask amendment that went into effect July 3 still applies in Wyandotte County. The county is under a mandatory mask order from the local health officer.

The new amendment on indoor exercising stated, “Athletes who are engaged in indoor activities and those exercising indoors are hereby required to wear masks or face coverings. This includes both team sports activities and in gym/weightlifting settings.”

Solitary outdoor exercise will remain exempt from the face covering requirement, the amendment stated.

Also, “All children over 5 years of age and all staff in daycare/childcare/educational settings are required to wear masks or face coverings at all times unless actively eating, drinking, or sleeping. Medical exemptions from LHO 7/6/20 remain in effect,” the new mask amendment stated.

“We’ve gotten many questions about the mask order, especially as it relates to exercise and sports. Socially distanced outdoor exercise is relatively safe, but we are really concerned about the potential for spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 with indoor exercise, whether it is people working out at a gym or participating in team sports,” Dr. Erin Corriveau, deputy medical officer with the Unified Government Health Department, said in a news release. “Wearing a mask while exercising indoors may be a bit uncomfortable, and it takes some getting used to, but there’s no scientific evidence to indicate that it is harmful to wear a mask during exercise.”

There is an expectation of new guidelines being issued soon at the state level for opening schools in Kansas, which are expected to require wearing masks. Wyandotte County has earlier issued its own education guidelines.

“Another concern was about childcare settings. We feel it is incredibly important for face coverings to be worn in these settings for the protection of the children, staff, and their families,” said Dr. Allen Greiner, chief medical officer with the Health Department. “We realize this is an adjustment for families and childcare providers, but it’s the best way to minimize the risk of the coronavirus spreading in settings like this.”

Masks are required locally for children over age 5, but the CDC actually recommends masks for anyone age 2 or older. Children under age 2 should never wear masks as it is a safety hazard at that age, according to the Health Department.

These new amendments follow a local health officer order that was issued on July 6 adopting Gov. Kelly’s Executive Order 20-52 requiring masks for the state, with one amendment for Wyandotte County. This previous amendment remains in effect:

“The term ‘Public Space’ includes public and private offices where more than one individual is congregating, workspaces where more than one individual is present, and any area of the office complex where more than one individual is present, such as a kitchen or break room.”

Certain exceptions to the mask requirement for health, safety and accessibility remain in effect, such as:

• People age 5 years or under – children age 2 years and under in particular should not wear a face covering because of the risk of suffocation.
• People with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents wearing a face covering.
• People who are deaf or hard of hearing, or communicating with a person who is deaf or hard of hearing, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.

See the full governor’s Executive Order 20-52 for more information on exceptions: https://governor.kansas.gov/executive-order-no-20-52/.

For more information on COVID-19 in Wyandotte County, go to wycokck.org/COVID-19 or call 3-1-1.

The new Wyandotte County mask order amendment is online at https://www.wycokck.org/WycoKCK/media/Health-Department/Documents/Communicable%20Disease/COVID19/07142020LocalHealthOfficerOrderMaskAmendments.pdf.

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