Governor Kelly holds press conference on COVID-19 updates, addresses other issues

Coronavirus in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – Governor Laura Kelly held a press conference from the Topeka Statehouse Wednesday afternoon to provide COVID-19 related updates for Kansas.

In her briefing, the governor provided the latest COVID-19 numbers in Kansas, including 807 new positive cases and 73 deaths since Monday. There have been 295,109 cases, 9,355 hospitalizations, and 4,816 deaths in Kansas since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We got some good news on the vaccine front this past weekend, on Saturday, the FDA authorized the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for emergency use — Johnson & Johnson will now be the third vaccine available, along with Madonna and Pfizer and then we’re expecting two more to be approved within the foreseeable future,” Governor Kelly said.

The governor said Kansas is expecting to receive over 23,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines, alongside the approximately 130,000 doses that the state will be receiving from Moderna and Pfizer.

“The good news about this one is that it requires only one dose, that will make it much easier to distribute and it’s much easier to store them, particularly than the Pfizer one,” Governor Kelly said. “It’s going to play a significant role in our ability to keep Kansans healthy, get our businesses back open fully, and get our kids back into school quickly.”

The governor shared the Johnson& Johnson vaccine playing a role to make a huge difference in Kansas’ race to achieve herd immunity.

“As of this morning, over 14-percent of Kansans have been reported as vaccinated through our back-to-school vaccine plan, we’re on track to have all K-12 teachers and staff vaccinated, with at least the first dose, by the end of this week,” Governor Kelly said.

The governor also addressed what Kansans are hearing about surges in electricity bills caused by extremely cold temperatures in February. The governor said the full extent of the spikes remains unknown, and that it will affect many people, municipalities, schools, hospitals, businesses, landlords, and consumers alike.

“We’re taking proactive steps to address the issue and considering every tool at our disposal to protect Kansans and communities from these surges,” the governor said. “In February I joined the Kansas Corporation Commission in asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or FERC to investigate the causes of the energy shortage –we really do have to get to the bottom of this, something like this cannot happen again,” she said.

“Additionally, I’ve instructed my cabinet secretaries to meet with affected stakeholders and do whatever they can to help Kansans — they’re working with partners on every level proactively communicating to identify the full scope of the issue and how we might be able to help,” the governor added.

“Finally this morning the house financial institutions and rural development committee met to approve a 100 million dollar low-interest loan program for municipalities — the loan will be administered by the state treasurer’s office using Pooled Money Investment Board or PMIB funds.” She added, “The House and Senate fast-tracked the bill, I believe it’s on its way to my desk, I expect to sign that before I go home tonight,” Governor Kelly said.

“We’re working with the treasurer’s office to ensure funds can be administered immediately, this loan program is very important to our cities — it gives them the immediate relief they need to avoid dire financial decisions while we pursue other long-term solutions,” Governor Kelly said. “In the meantime, I want Kansans to know that resources are there, funds are available through the Low Income Energy Assistance Program or LIEAP to help pay the electricity bills related to those frigid temperatures.”

For the latest updates on COVID-19 cases in Kansas, click here

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