Riley County’s mask ordinance will expire this weekend after commissioners voted 2-1 to rescind its health order two weeks earlier than initially planned.
Commission Chair John Ford and commissioner Greg McKinley voted in favor of ending the ordinance. McKinley said the county should’ve ended the ordinance a month ago.
Ford says he’s finding it difficult to defend the mandate with only one positive case outside Manhattan.
“I’m a policy maker, I make policy. I’m not a healthcare expert, I’m not a public health expert and I’m never going to be. Common sense and sensibility tells me that I need to be able to defend those actions whether they’re coming from one sector or from me, because ultimately that’s where the decision lies,” he said.
Ford is continuing to encourage people to wear masks and take safety precautions.
Commissioner Kathryn Focke, who opposed ending the ordinance early, says the county is essentially walking back on its commitment to local entities.
“Are we going to break a commitment that we made the university? I know they’re concerned about it. The city was pretty disappointed that we were even considering this. I don’t know how two and a half weeks is going to impact people in the county. We’re almost done with this mask mandate,” she said.
Ford argued the commission has to consider its constituents outside of Manhattan and K-State.
The mask ordinance expires Sunday, May 2.