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Community leaders to make up Recovery Task Force for re-opening Wichita and Sedgwick County

Coronavirus in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A Recovery Task Force has been created with county and city officials, as well as business and educational leaders to discuss how to safely reopen the city of Wichita and Sedgwick County.

The city of Wichita announced it will bring back 42 employees to help with maintenance, a start to some employees safely returning back to work.

Officials said all city workers will be provided proper personal protection equipment (PPE) while working, and they will practice occupational distancing.

The city released the following statement to KSN:

“As with all City workers, we are practicing proper safety protocols and employees are provided with PPE (masks, gloves, hand sanitizer) and have put in place measures for occupational distancing. We are dedicated to working with any employee with concerns for their health. Local governments have the discretion to determine which of their functions are essential at the local level. Due to the increased use in parks and warmer weather, it is imperative that work in the parks continue.”

While that is one step in the direction of safely opening back up, Mayor Brandon Whipple said he knows Wichitans are looking forward to normalcy returning, but they want to reopen in the safest way.

“The goal is to do this responsibly, but also to not be knee-jerk about it,” said Mayor Whipple. “We need to be responding to what medical experts, what public safety experts say much more than what we want.”

The Recovery Task Force has been created and Becky Tuttle, Wichita city council member, has been asked to be a part of it because of her background in medical science.

“In 2009 and 2010 when our community was facing the H1N1 pandemic, which was not as severe as this was and things were different then because we had a vaccine, I was intricately involved in the process there as a county employee of the health department,” said Tuttle.

Pete Meitnzer, county commissioner, will head the task force.

Tuttle said it’s important that people from all aspects of the community are a part of this so that all voices can be heard.

“I think they’re doing a really great job of trying to select a really broad representation of our community,” said Tuttle. “Things won’t just be going back to the way they were, and I think that’s something we’ll address in the task force is what will be the next steps. What will the next two, four six, eight, 10, 12 weeks look like? What will the next year look like?”

The members of the task force will meet for the first time Friday (Apr. 23) at 10 a.m. through a Zoom teleconference.

County health officials said they hope to have a more concrete plan for reopening the county and city by next week.

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