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Anti-mask attendees at city council meeting may have been exposed to coronavirus

Health officials in Independence, Missouri, said at least one person at the Aug. 16 meeting had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Attendees who packed a recent City Council meeting in Independence, Missouri, which included debate over masks, may have been exposed to the coronavirus, health officials said.

The city's Health and Animal Services Department said Monday that at least one person at the meeting Aug. 16 had tested positive.

"All individuals in attendance at this meeting who were in the Chamber were likely exposed and should get tested, especially if showing any symptoms of Covid-19," the health department said in a statement.

The meeting drew a large crowd of mostly maskless people, according to photos and video shared by reporter Nick Starling of NBC affiliate KSHB of Kansas City. Many people spoke out against having a mask mandate for the city, citing freedoms and personal choice.

The council voted 4-2 not to implement the mandate. Had the order been approved, masks would have been required indoors when people from separate households were in the same room, KSHB reported.

Masks would have also been required for outdoor gatherings with more than 100 people in attendance.

Independence, about 10 miles east of Kansas City, recently enforced — and then quickly dropped — mask mandates. In late July, the city required people to wear masks in city buildings.

KSHB reported that the mandate went into effect on July 29 but that by Aug. 3 Mayor Eileen Weir had reversed it, saying masks were not required in city buildings.

"Following careful consideration, we are rescinding the public health order and returning to the public health advisory, which strongly encourages masks in all indoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status," Weir said.