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Gov. Laura Kelly issues statement on updated CDC guidance, urges Kansans to get vaccinated

Coronavirus in Kansas

FILE – In this April 15, 2020 file photo, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly discusses the coronavirus pandemic from the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan.

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – Governor Laura Kelly issued a statement addressing the updated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on masking.

“While we are still reviewing the new guidance and what it means for Kansas, this administration has consistently followed the recommendations from the experts at the CDC – and we don’t intend to stop. Right now Kansas is at a crossroads. The new Delta variant has caused COVID-19 to surge in our communities and some of our hospitals are moving towards capacity. The bad news is that parts of our state fall into the “hot spot” category for new cases, the good news is we have a vaccine to protect us from the virus that is safe, effective against severe illness, hospitalization and death, and free. I strongly urge every Kansan who isn’t vaccinated to get one right away. That is the best way to stop the spread of COVID in our state. For those who are vaccinated, I ask that you speak with your friends, neighbors, and loved ones who are unvaccinated and encourage them to get vaccinated to protect themselves and our state.”

Gov. Laura Kelly

The CDC is recommending that even vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the coronavirus is surging.

Citing new information about the ability of the delta variant to spread among vaccinated people, the CDC also recommended indoor masks for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status.

A Wichita Public Schools spokesman tells KSN News that masks are still optional for anyone who wants to wear them. The district said they would continue to evaluate and work through the planning process.

When KSN News asked the City of Wichita about the CDC guidance, they sent us the following statement:

“We are looking toward Sedgwick County as the board of health to provide recommendations on further covid precautions. In the meantime, we encourage residents to get vaccinated if they can and to take precautions to guard against spreading the virus.”

Megan Lovely, Communications and Special Events Manager City of Wichita

The new CDC guidance follows recent decisions in Los Angeles and St. Louis to revert to indoor mask mandates amid a spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations that have been especially bad in the South. The country is averaging more than 57,000 cases a day and 24,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Most new infections in the U.S. continue to be among unvaccinated people. But “breakthrough” infections, which generally cause milder illness, can occur in vaccinated people. When earlier strains of the virus predominated, infected vaccinated people were found to have low levels of virus and were deemed unlikely to spread the virus much, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said.

But with the delta variant, the level of virus in infected vaccinated people is “indistinguishable” from the level of virus in the noses and throats of unvaccinated people, Walensky said.

The data emerged over the last couple of days from 100 samples. It is unpublished, and the CDC has not released it. But “it is concerning enough that we feel like we have to act,” Walensky said.

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