Citing enforceability and potential liability challenges, Marshall County Commissioners in special meeting Friday morning unanimously adopted a resolution exempting mandate, but strongly recommending wearing of face masks in public. The response to an Executive Order issued earlier this week from the governor.
County Health Officer John Ryan said that while the mandate was good health wise, he did concur that considering the downside of liability, one has to weigh the risks. Considerable focus was on business impact, and while Ryan recommended that employers recommend use of masks for employees, it should perhaps be up to the business whether or not they require customers to comply. He noted that commissioners have the flexibility to modify the order.
County Health Nurse Sue Rhodes said that the easiest prevention measure is masks. She highlighted social distancing challenges as schools make plans to reopen, adding sports and kids’ habits among concerns. Her comment was that a mandate could be challenging in reopening schools, and the impact on the local economy. Rhodes urged commissioners to get on the same page, with the same message.
Multiple county agencies heard calls for clarification from residents. The county attorney, sheriff, and county counselor all agreed that enforcement could become an issue, as the matter is considered a civil case. Tim Ackerman indicated that his officers could not be called to enforce, or investigate individual complaints, and attorneys agreed that filing cases was not a realistic use of time and resources. Noting that Marshall County has experienced just 2 positive cases thus far, and that the public has been diligent in being cautious, commissioners adopted the resolution, effective immediately that the governors executive order on masks not apply, and that no business, municipality, or organization, shall be required, but are strongly encouraged to adopt appropriate protection measures for the safety of the public. Noting disagreements that have already been reported, it was further consensus that people should be mutually respectful, and considerate of others.
RESOLUTION NO. 20-20-07-03-1
A RESOLUTION OF THE BOARD OF MARSHALL COUNTY COMMISSIONERS, MARSHALL COUNTY, KANSAS ISSUING AN ORDER EXEMPTING MARSHALL COUNTY FROM EXECUTIVE ORDER 20-52
WHEREAS, on July 2, 2020 The Governor of the State of Kansas issued Executive Order 20-52 requiring the wearing of masks or other face coverings in public; and
WHEREAS, Section 33 of Kansas HB 2016, The Board of County Commissioners are authorized to issue orders relating to public health that are either or more less stringent than the provisions of an Executive Order issued by the Governor; and
WHEREAS, The Board of County Commissioners have consulted with the Public Health Officer of Marshall County and such consultation reveals that while wearing masks in public is strongly suggested and strongly encouraged, it is not necessary that the wearing a mask or other face covering be an actual order; and
WHEREAS, enforcement of such an order would be a near impossibility; and WHEREAS, there remain a minimal number of confirmed positive covid-19 cases
in Marshall County;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the Board of Commissioners of Marshall County, Kansas hereby Order, as follows:
1. That the provisions of Executive Order 20-52 are not applicable in Marshall County Kansas as an enforceable order.
2. That the provisions of Executive Order 20-52 are advisable and strongly recommended to be followed by the citizens of and visitors to Marshall County.
3. Nothing herein shall restrict any business, municipality or organization from requiring its patrons or citizens to wear a mask or other face covering.
ADOPTED AND APPROVED as an Order of the Board of County Commissioners of Marshall County, Kansas, this 3rd day of July, 2020.