McPherson commissioners drop mask mandate, encourage vaccinations

C. Jayden Smith

The McPherson city commissioners voted 3-0 Monday in favor of suspending the mask mandate, adding a section through ordinance 3354 that allows them to quickly implement or suspend the mandate as needed.  

McPherson County sits in the yellow range of the Key Metrics for COVID Suppression Framework, with 4 new cases per 100,000 people and 1.1 daily new cases per a seven-day moving average.  

Dr. Sheila Gorman of the McPherson Hospital reported to the commissioners Thursday that the county vaccination rate as of that day was 393.1 per 1,000 people, and that their clinic had seen a significant recent drop-off in vaccine appointments. 

Gorman attributed the “plateau” in vaccinations to the fact that shots are available at other places besides the hospital, and that most who wanted to get vaccinated have likely already done so.  

“At this point, from a practical social standpoint, I don’t see the utility of continuing the mask ordinance if the community is every bit as vaccinated as it chooses to be and COVID numbers are low,” Gorman wrote.  

Commissioner Gary Mehl expressed his disappointment in the lack of enthusiasm from the McPherson community to get vaccinated, as he had hoped to see 50 percent of people get theirs.  

“I know some cities had set 70 percent as the mark,” Mehl said. “We’re obviously not going to get there because vaccinations have fallen off, so we’ll take what we can.”  

He encouraged the other commissioners to recognize businesses that will continue to require masks and warned that cases will likely rise soon, citing examples in Sedgwick and Reno Counties. Mehl also encouraged those who have not yet gotten vaccinated to have it done, to limit the spread.  

Commissioner Wiens agreed with Mehl, and said he believed that those he had seen walking around without masks are likely to not want the vaccine.  

Wiens called the sight “really, really disappointing,” and vowed to make significant changes if McPherson County underwent the same results that occurred in Reno County. 

“I just hope we don’t get back in the same rut that we were in six months ago, or even a year ago,” he said. “If we do, ladies and gentlemen, it’s not going to be a pretty sight, I can tell you that.”  

Both Wiens and Mehl ensured that they were not fans of wearing masks.  

After the vote, Mayor Brown asked people that were uncomfortable being out and around others to wear a mask, and encouraged others to socially distance, while advising all to abide by the wishes of any local institution they enter. 

Brown had a  message to share on the topic. 

“Be kind to everyone, whether they wear a mask or don’t wear a mask.”