K-State President Richard Myers and Manhattan mayor Usha Reddi want Riley County to go along with Gov. Laura Kelly’s mask mandate.

On Wednesday, Kelly introduced a new statewide mask mandate, asking counties to come up with a plan within the week. Counties can create their own plan or decide to opt out. If the commission does not take any action, the county automatically opts into the mask mandate.

Reddi spoke during the public comment portion Thursday during the Riley County Commission meeting.

“(I) just want you to consider accepting or making your own requirements for a face mask mandate,” Reddi said.

Myers in a Thursday letter urged the county commission to follow Kelly’s mandate.

“Now is the time to put political differences aside and do what is right for the health and safety of everyone in our communities while keeping businesses open to help restore our economy,” he said.

Commissioners said they are reviewing Kelly’s mandate and are open to discussing this further. Commissioner John Ford said he watched Kelly’s press conference Wednesday.

“I think we have to take a moment ... to review ... what our best approach is going to be at this point in time with that to concur,” Ford said. “It may take a few days, but I’ll work with (Riley County counselor Clancy Holeman) ... and the health department and our (emergency operations center).”

Chair Marvin Rodriguez thanked Reddi for coming in to talk to the commission. Commissioner Ron Wells was absent.

On Wednesday morning, prior to Kelly’s announcement in the afternoon, the county commissioners didn’t commit to moving forward with a countywide mask mandate despite pushes from the medical community.

Wells and Rodriguez said they considered the mask mandate more of a city issue since Manhattan had the bulk of the coronavirus cases. Ford said he had concerns about the logistics of enforcing a mandate in rural areas.

The Manhattan City Commission will review the citywide mask ordinance the first week of December, Reddi said.

Reddi thanked county officials and commissioners for their efforts through the pandemic.

RCPD virus cases

Riley County Police Department (RCPD) Director Dennis Butler told the commission that three RCPD employees and one inmate in jail have tested positive this week. This inmate, the first from the jail to test positive for the virus, has since been released on house arrest, Butler said. Someone close to the inmate tested positive for the virus and had been in recent contact with the inmate, Butler said.

Two employees likely caught the virus at home or while in public, Butler said, but not at work. A third employee may have contracted the virus while working a recent accident on Interstate 70, Butler said.

Contact tracing is ongoing for the cases. There are three total recoveries at RCPD.