Better hang on to those face masks: Sedgwick County says its mandatory mask order will continue through at least Oct. 21.
Dr. Garold Minns, the county's health officer, issued an extension to the current order Thursday afternoon. It starts Wednesday morning, just as the current order expires.
Speaking earlier in the day at a virtual town hall on the pandemic, Minns said the continued use of masks is critical in fighting the coronavirus.
"As long as the virus is in the community; as long as over 90 percent are susceptible to it, I believe, unless we get a vaccine that’s proven to be effective, the mask is the most important thing we have," Minns said.
In a news release from the county, he noted the decline in Covid-19 cases locally.
"I firmly believe that one main reason for the trends moving in the right direction is citizen compliance and wearing masks," Minns said in the statement.
The county has reported more than 7,000 positive cases and 55 deaths.
Minns issued the county’s first mask order in July after a spike in cases. It came after Sedgwick County commissioners recommended people wear masks, but declined to mandate it.
The order has since been extended several times. The one taking effect Wednesday is the same as the current order.
It requires residents ages 6 and above to wear masks in public spaces. Businesses also must have employees and customers wear masks.
There are some exceptions for medical reasons.
Bars and restaurants will still be limited to 50% capacity and must close by 11 p.m. Carryout and curbside service are still permitted after 11 p.m.
Large entertainment venues can host events with less than 2,000 people as long as they follow mass gathering requirements, meaning groups of no more than 15 people spaced at least 6-feet apart.
For events with more than 2,000 people, venues can submit a plan to Minns for his approval.
Schools, churches and daycare facilities are exempt from the mass gathering rule.