TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – Governor Laura Kelly held a press conference from the Topeka Statehouse Wednesday afternoon to provide updates regarding COVID-19 in Kansas. The event comes as public health officials warn that the state’s residents need to be more vigilant about wearing masks, social distancing, and avoiding gatherings.
In her briefing, the governor provided the latest COVID-19 numbers in Kansas, including 5,853 new positive cases and 63 deaths since Monday. There have been 128,594 infections, 4,551 hospitalizations, and 1,326 deaths in Kansas since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
Governor Kelly acknowledged the burden and unimaginable levels of stress healthcare and frontline workers were facing dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and shared examples of various healthcare professionals across the state.
During her Wednesday briefing, Governor Kelly announced several new steps her administration is taking to combat the spike in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. 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.”
Executive Order #20-68 takes effect beginning 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, November 25, and will remain in place until rescinded or until the current statewide State of Disaster Emergency expires – whichever is earlier. The new executive order from the governor is provided below:
“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 the face-covering protocol.
The governor had 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.