WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Dr. Garold Minns, Sedgwick County’s health officer, signed a new order to further reduce the spread of COVID-19 as a result of continued increases in COVID-19 cases in Sedgwick County, which is outpacing the state of Kansas and national numbers. The order limits gatherings and closes bars or clubs.

Health department officials say no clusters have been identified at bars or clubs, but through contact tracing, they’ve seen many cases associated with bars and clubs.

“I’m sorry that they’re being picked on individually. I think the fair way to do this is to treat everyone equally and give everybody the same rules. There’s no reason for these businesses to shut down. There are ways to manage this virus, and if you’re gonna shut down a business, shut them all down,” said Sedgwick County Commissioner Jim Howell.

The commission, acting as the county board of health, voted 5-0 to amend the dates of the order. It will still take effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday, July 24, 2020, and remain in effect until 11:59 p.m. on Friday, August 21, 2020.

Commissioner Jim Howell made a motion to eliminate restaurants that sell alcohol to close at midnight from Dr. Minns’ order. The motion passed 4-1.

Howell also made a motion to eliminate Section II, item 5 in which states that, “bars and night clubs shall be closed to the public, except that curbside and carryout services are allowed” from Dr. Minn’s order. It failed 2-3.

Two more motions made by Commissioner Howell was to exempt swimming pools and change the age of mask-wearing from 5 years of age to 11 years of age. They both passed 5-0.

Residents are still required to wear masks or face coverings in public spaces.

The order adopts Phase 2 of the Ad Astra Plan which allows groups of up to 15 people, as long as those people are commonly known to one another, and must be located at least six feet away from other groups. Events and business occupancy are not capped at 15 people. Exceptions to the order are included in the document.

Recreational, youth, or other non-professional organized sports facilities, sports tournaments, sports games, and sports practices may occur.

Outdoor and indoor entertainment venues may open as long as they comply with the mass gatherings requirement, social distancing, and the total number of attendees for the venue does not exceed 2,000 people.

Religious institutions, election polling places, licensed childcare facilities, schools, and court facilities are exempted from the mass gathering limits.


PREVIOUS STORY BELOW FROM JULY 21, 2020

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Sedgwick County Health Officer Dr. Garold Minns told Sedgwick County commissioners on Tuesday that he is considering a new health order for the county to control the increasing COVID-19 cases.

The health order would close bars and nightclubs for the time being. Other drinking and eating establishments that serve alcohol would be asked to close at 10 p.m.

It would limit mass gathering to 15 people (new exceptions listed above in updated story). Venues in excess of 2,000 people would be prohibited.

Business would be required to enforce a six foot distance between patrons.

No fairs, parades, or festivals would be allowed.

The order would not affect schools, licensed daycares, licensed summer camps, or religious institutions.

Already, the county has a mask order in effect.

Dr. Minns said he would like the order to go into effect today, and it would run until Sept. 9 when it would be reassessed.

“I think if we really want to get our numbers down further, make it a little easier for the schools, that we need to write an order that incorporates a few more restrictions,” Dr. Minns told the commission.

Testing and Cases

Sedgwick County Manager Tom Stolz said the county is seeing 12 out of 100 every test come back positive for COVID-19. In early June, the number was one or two tests per 100. The county is seeing 82% of cases under the age of 60 and 55% under the age of 40.

As for hospitalizations, the county has had more hospitalization than ever since the pandemic started and more employees in the hospital are out due to COVID-19.

For July 20th, the county had 58 patients in the hospital for COVID-19, 31 were in the ICU, and 26 beds were available.

Last week, the county health department tested 1,141 people. The county has 11,000 test kits on hand and more a being ordered but fewer are being received each time.