TOPEKA— Gov. Laura Kelly announced new measures designed to control the spread of the coronavirus in Kansas as the state experiences its biggest surge in new cases of the pandemic.
(Due to technical issue in Topeka, the first moments of the broadcast had no audio)
The new plan includes a public health campaign, community engagement conversations and an executive order establishing a statewide face-covering protocol as part of her administration’s all-of-the-above strategy to keep Kansans healthy, keep schools and businesses open, and protect Kansas’ economy.
“As COVID-19 continues to spread through Kansas communities and hospitalizations increase at concerning rates, it is clear we must take action to protect our communities and our economy,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “Today’s actions are a bipartisan package of recommendations from legislators, health professionals, and business leaders to increase participation in commonsense COVID-19 prevention practices.”
E.O. #20-68 takes effect beginning 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, November 25, and will remain in place until rescinded or until the current statewide State of Disaster Emergency expires – whichever is earlier.
“My administration recognizes that each Kansas county is faced with unique challenges – and a one-size-fits-all approach can be difficult for some communities to navigate,” Governor Kelly said. “The order allows local officials one week to craft and implement their own version of a face covering ordinance that works for them and their communities.”
Under the order, Kansans shall wear face coverings when inside public spaces, or in situations where physical distancing of 6 feet cannot be maintained. Guidance regarding specific locations or situations in which face coverings should be worn is outlined within the order.
Kansans under five years of age, those with medical conditions, and others outlined in the order are exempt from face covering protocol.
In addition to the face-covering protocol, the Kelly administration is partnering with The Leadership Center to mobilize its alumni base, which is nearly 12,000 strong, to mobilize and lead virtual non-partisan convenings across Kansas beginning the week of November 17 and concluding by late December. The project will dramatically increase the number of local leaders – pastors, coaches, neighborhood leaders, business owners, community officials, and others to use their influence to combat the virus.
This week, Governor Kelly also approved CARES Act funding to assist a coalition of stakeholders including the Kansas Hospital Association, Kansas Chamber of Commerce, Kansas Farm Bureau, and others, to create a statewide public health campaign to begin next week. The campaign will encourage Kansans to follow the best practices, encourage voluntary testing, avoid mass gatherings, and use face-coverings.
Wednesday's announcement came as public health officials warn that the state’s residents need to be more vigilant about wearing masks, social distancing and avoiding gatherings. The Democratic governor has promised publicly that she won’t shut down businesses statewide again, as she did for five weeks in the spring. The Republican-controlled Legislature also forced her in June to accept local control over pandemic restrictions.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Kansas increased by 5,853 to a total of 128,594 the state health department reported Wednesday afternoon.
Coronavirus deaths were reported at 1,326, an increase of 60
Click here for additional numbers from the KDHE.