By NICK GOSNELL
HUTCHINSON, Kan. — The Board of Reno County Commissioners went on record Tuesday before allowing the Health Order 20-04 issued by Reno County Interim Health Officer Karen Hammersmith to stand. Reno County Commissioner Dr. Mark Steffen believed it was important for the commission to vote on the issue and he asserts that at the end of the day, there is not proof that mask wearing helps stop the spread.
"That is a narrative that is being pushed and pushed strongly and being widely accepted," Steffen said Tuesday. "It's just not true and it's not going to pan out over time and I can't put my name on that and I won't put my name on that."
Commissioner Ron Hirst noted that there is a full page worth of exceptions, like there was in earlier orders that limited gathering sizes.
"I think there's enough in this, with the exceptions," said commissioner Ron Hirst. "I think we need to look at the exceptions on this, too, quite well, because it allows business to go about business, it allows churches to go about church. It allows facilities to be utilized and it gives the businesses and facilities and churches the opportunity, rather than being against them."
Commission Chair Ron Sellers voted to allow the order to go into effect, as well.
"I'm in support of the health order," Sellers said. "We have more cases in Reno County than ever. We have more deaths recently than ever. I do think that the facts show that most people that are going to die from this are population 70 and over and that's what the statistics show and I think we need to do things that can help them not die. I think our hospital and medical community is overloaded and they see no let up in sight. I do think that we're not just being an echo chamber. I think that from February and March on, we've listened to people that are experts in these fields. We've listened to our hospital and been working with them with Chuck Welch with the hospital on an ongoing basis and so I do think that we've been listening to experts in the field."
The vote to override the health order failed by that 2-1 vote. It will be in effect from 12:01 Wednesday morning until December 18, unless rescinded.