TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Kansas Governor Laura Kelly, noting a repeat of the past on Thursday, signed a State of Disaster Emergency and two executive orders in response to a COVID-19 comeback in the state.

The governor formally announced her new actions to combat the pandemic at 4:15 p.m. at the Kansas Statehouse.

“Just as I did at the start of the pandemic, today I am again issuing orders to provide our hospitals and nursing homes with the necessary staffing flexibility to keep the residents, patients, and staff safe,” Kelly said. “This disaster declaration provides a 15-day solution to give our front-line health care workers the support they need as they battle this COVID-19 surge. This action is temporary until the legislature returns, at which time I will work with them to pass legislation to extend my executive orders through the month of March.”

Read the governor’s full disaster declaration below:

The declaration activates recovery portions of the Kansas Response Plan. It also allows the governor to halt any statutes, rules or regulations that get in the way of “necessary action in coping with the disaster.” The governor’s two executive orders also utilize her power under the disaster declaration:

  • The governor’s first executive order, E.O. 22-01, “provides temporary relief from certain restrictions and requirements governing the provision of medical services.”
  • The second, E.O. 22-02, “relaxes or suspends licensure, certification and registration for persons and licensure of adult care homes.”

Referring to a “surge in COVID-19 cases,” the governor’s office said the worst is yet to come. Medical experts predict the higher transmission rate of the omicron variant will hit Kansans harder into February. According to early data, the new variant is transmissible even among people who have been vaccinated. Still, the governor took the opportunity while announcing the disaster declaration to ask Kansans to get vaccinated and boosted, hoping to reduce the number of severe cases requiring hospitalization.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, who is also running for governor, also responded to Kelly’s disaster declaration.

“The governor’s use of emergency powers must not again be allowed to get out of hand as happened earlier in the pandemic when she used emergency decrees to order churches, businesses and schools closed and to impost mask mandates,” Schmidt said. “It is good the legislature reconvenes on Monday and will be in session to maintain a watchful eye.”

KSNW’s Alexis Padilla also spoke to local hospital leaders at Ascension Via Christi and Hutchinson Regional Medical Center to gather their perspectives on Gov. Kelly’s disaster declaration.

Both Wesley and Ascension Via Christi were thankful to get support from the governor.

“This should give us at least potentially some of the flexibilities that are needed in order to adjust our operations in order to better serve our communities. And so I’m very grateful for the governor,” said Dr. Sam Antonios.

“So the extra manpower with the extra professional help that this could give us access to that can really turn the tide and how many sick people we can actually take care of,” said Chuck Welch, Hutchinson Regional Healthcare System. “There are so many different ways that they can help us and so I’m excited to see who comes forward and who is willing to get relicensed and get re-upped and help us out.”

Wesley Healthcare statement:

Wesley Healthcare applauds Governor Kelley on her efforts to support Kansas health care providers.

However, we also want to thank our heroic health care workers, who continue to tirelessly care for our community. The ongoing shortage of staff and resources we face as an organization is stretching our health care professionals to their limits, but they continue to show up – for their patients, their community and each other – every day.

In addition, we ask the people of Kansas to help us manage this crisis by getting vaccinated against COVID-19, and receiving their booster doses when eligible. By doing so, they can help reduce the impact COVID-19 is having on our state’s health care institutions, and ensure that our workers can continue to care for those most in need.

Dave Stewart
Wesley Marketing & PR