TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – Gov. Laura Kelly held a press conference Wednesday afternoon to discuss the state’s response to the delta variant and the Centers for Disease Control updated guidance on masking.
Governor Kelly commenced her speech saying, “we’ve been brought together mostly through a self-inflicted problem, you know close to half of our population has refused to get a vaccine that is safe, it is effective against severe illness, hospitalization, and death, and it’s absolutely free for the asking.”
The governor said the low vaccine rates statewide had allowed the “twice as contagious this delta variant of COVID-19 to spread like wildfire across the country and now our state.”
“This is happening because the delta variant is significantly more contagious than previous variants — just one person who is infected with COVID delta can carry upwards of 1,000 times the viral load as a patient infected with a previous version of this disease,” Governor Kelly said.
“As I said yesterday, this administration has consistently followed the recommendations from the experts at the CDC. per my authority under the state constitution beginning next Monday, state employees, regardless of their vaccination status, will be required to wear masks indoors at work if they cannot socially distance,” she said. “Additionally, anyone entering state buildings or facilities will also be required to mask up.”
Governor Kelly shared her concerns as the back-to-school season nears.
“My other immediate concern is for the well-being of our children going back to school in just a matter of weeks,” she said. “Later this week, my administration will be releasing updated guidance for school districts.”
The governor said, “I know the last year has been extraordinarily challenging, but the circumstances have changed considerably. We have a vaccine. Our economy is strong, and we are making good strides. But the delta variant has put the people of Kansas at another crossroads.”
Governor Kelly, in her own words, shared some good news and some bad news.
“The bad news is that cases are rising in many parts of our state,” she said. “The good news is that we had a vaccine that protects us from the virus that is safe, it’s effective, and it’s free.”
Click below to watch Governor Kelly’s full speech:
On Tuesday, the CDC recommended 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.
Gov. Kelly issued this statement following the announcement on Tuesday:
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
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the Salina school district announced they would require masks in their buildings. Douglas County health officials recommended that nearly every resident wear masks in indoor public spaces.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment report 2,177 new coronavirus cases, 4 new death and 76 new hospitalizations since Monday. It is the highest increase since February.
The next update is scheduled for Friday.