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Kansas City mayor: COVID-19 challenges include misinformation, political right

Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Quinton Lucas (D) on Sunday said he is facing two challenges as his municipality battles COVID-19: misinformation regarding vaccinations and opposition from the political right when it comes to mask mandates and other mitigation practices.

Asked by moderator Margaret Brennan on CBS’s “Face the Nation” what is holding him back from enacting a citywide mask mandate to tame the spread of COVID-19, Lucas pointed to the “political challenge” he has received from the state of Missouri.

The mayor said Attorney General Eric Schmitt (R), who is also running for U.S. Senate, had filed “numerous” lawsuits and at times argued that mask mandates “are challenges to freedom.”

“He’s called them challenges and tyranny, those sorts of things that we face every time we issue a new mask requirement,” Schmitt added.

Schmitt was dealt a blow in September when a state judge denied his motion for a preliminary injunction against a local school district’s mask mandate. The Missouri judge also concluded that his lawsuit could not be applied generally to all school districts in the state that have similar mandates.

He filed another lawsuit earlier this month in an attempt to stop a mask mandate from taking effect in St. Louis County, Missouri.

Lucas said the other challenge has has faced as mayor during the pandemic is battling misinformation, particularly when it comes to vaccines.

The mayor told Brennan that the city is trying to focus more on vaccinations but “we’re facing challenges because there is a substantial amount of misinformation out in the public about if vaccination is important, if it’s good, if it’s free, what it does to you.”

“So, we’re really fighting, I think, a battle on two different fronts. One is from my political right and those that are trying to say that this just isn’t that big of a deal and then always trying to fight the information side to make sure that we get people vaccinated and safe,” he added.

Lucas noted that between 80 and 90 percent of patients in the city’s intensive care units have not been inoculated.

The number of new coronavirus cases reported in Kansas City has skyrocketed in recent weeks. According to the city’s COVID-19 dashboard 6,900 new cases were reported in the week ending on Jan. 8, which was 2,000 more than the previous week. 

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