WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Sedgwick County health officials and county commissioners are working on a draft Health Recovery Plan for guidelines for reopening the county after the stay-at-home order ends.
The question on many people’s minds is when will things return to a new normal and businesses open back up in Sedgwick County?
Officials have broken it down into four phases. Adrienne Byrne, director of the Sedgwick County Health Department, said we are still in phase one of slowing the spread of coronavirus.
Phase two loosens restrictions, phase three lifts most restrictions, and phase four establishes protections. At every phase, officials said outbreak and spread are expected.
Officials have gathered criteria necessary for safely starting to reopen the county. That list includes adequate testing supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE), reduction in cases and symptoms over a 14 day period, and more.
“Not just movement down in one or two days, but a 14 day period where we see those numbers continue to decline,” said Byrne.
But, Byrne said the county is lacking in two very important aspects; adequate PPE supplies and the number of testing supplies. While the county has received more testing supplies in the last few days, Byrne said there is still not enough.
“We are going to be in a little bit of a better place as we are able to test more people,” said Byrne. “Right now, our numbers only tell us a limited amount.”
County commissioners raised concerns about timing and making sure the plan has definite details lined up in time. Some said it is important that business owners are prepared to open back up.
“I think our businesses should have some predictability,” said Jim Howell, Sedgwick County commissioner. “The sooner we make some of these decisions, the better it is for them to make a plan for their employees for what they would do when the orders are lifted.”
Other commissioners said it’s important to hear feedback from every member of the community during the process.
“When we talk about key people, every single person in the community is a key person,” said Lacey Cruse.
Health officials said the plan needs to include precautions that continue to keep people safe.
“The goal is to loosen restrictions for businesses to be able to get back to operation knowing that safety and precautions that those operating now are taking,” said Byrne. “We need to make sure that we have PPE for our businesses as they return back to protect their employees.”
The final draft of the plan is expected to be complete by the next county commission meeting.
Officials suggested having at least one public meeting to discuss more concrete plans for safely reopening the county.
For more information about precautions and guidelines from Sedgwick County, click here.