Gov. Laura Kelly has announced a new executive order that creates a mask mandate to control the spread of the coronavirus in Kansas, as the state again reported a new record seven-day increase in cases. Kelly said Wednesday that the executive order sets a standard for the state of Kansas to follow, but also gives communities ownership and flexibility to decide how best to implement the new protocol to cover individuals locally. Under the new order, the district commissions will have one week to implement the ordinance to cover their faces, and if they do not create their own, they will automatically be included in the mandate to cover persons from the state. Kelly said the counties and cities that have already met the coverage requirements will be exempted from this new enforcement order and will keep their existing protocols. “We have reached a new stage in our fight against this virus,”
Gov. Laura Kelly has announced a new executive order creating a nationwide mask mandate to control the spread of coronavirus in Kansas, as the state again reported a new record seven-day increase in cases.
Kelly said Wednesday that the executive order sets a standard for the Kansas state to follow, but also gives communities ownership and flexibility to decide how best to implement the new protocol to cover individuals locally.
Under the new order, district commissions will have one week to implement their ordinance to cover the person, and if they do not create their own, they will automatically be included in the state’s mandate to cover the person.
Kelly said counties and cities that have already introduced coverage requirements will be exempted from this new enforcement order and will keep their existing protocols.
“We have reached a new stage in our fight against this virus,” Kelly said. “The way we decide to respond can change the course of our business, our hospitals and our schools.
“Today’s actions are a bipartisan package of recommendations from legislators, health professionals and business leaders to increase participation in healthy practices for the prevention of COVID-19.”
The executive order takes effect at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 25, and will remain in effect until revoked or until the current state of emergency in the entire state expires.
[ VIEW THE COMPLETE EXECUTIVE ORDER ]
“My administration recognizes that each Kansas county faces unique challenges – and a one-size-fits-all approach for all communities can be difficult to navigate,” Kelly said. “The ordinance allows local employees one week to develop and implement their own version of a facial ordinance that works for them and their communities.”
According to the order, Kansans must wear facial coverings when in public spaces or in situations where a physical distance of 6 feet cannot be maintained. Kanzans under the age of five and those with medical conditions are exempt from the coverage protocol.
Masks are also required outdoors in public spaces when people are unable to maintain a distance of 6 feet between people, not including people who live together, only with rare or incidental moments of close proximity.
The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce said it supported Kelly’s mandate.
“The data show that wearing a mask is the best way to support small businesses in our region,” the group said in a statement. “Reduced distribution means that businesses have a better chance of keeping their doors open. Frontline medical workers are dealing with the wave of new cases. To treat these cases, hospitals have a shortage of staff and intensive care beds. We all need to do our part to slow the spread and protect our community – especially our medical staff at the front. “
The announcement comes hours after data from the state health department showed that Kansas had an average of 2,767 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus per day for the seven days ending Wednesday. That’s just above the previous record of 2,741 for the seven days ending Monday.
As of Monday, the state added 5,853 cases to its total pandemic, increasing them to 128,594. The state reported 60 new COVID-19-related deaths in two days, making a total of 1,326.
Kelly has publicly promised not to close businesses across the state again, as he did for five weeks in the spring. The Republican-controlled legislature also forced it in June to adopt local control over mask mandates, business restrictions and restrictions on public gatherings.
Kelly issued a nationwide mask mandate in July, but state law allowed 105 Kansas counties to give up, and most did. In the last two weeks, however, at least a dozen counties have tightened their coronavirus restrictions as cases increase.
Kelly said Wednesday that she has visited the Republican leadership and they are not rejecting her new term.
Johnson County continues to have the most confirmed cases in Kansas with 22,826, while Wyandotte County is third with 10,235 cases.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reports 25 active cluster sites in Johnson County, including 21 in long-term care facilities. Two private businesses in Shawnee – McClane Company and Pinnacle Gymnastics – were added to the list on Wednesday. Kindergartens of Building Blocks in Lenexa are also a cluster location.
A cluster has been reported at the Grossman Housing Restart Center in Leavenworth County and a cluster at Eudora High School in Douglas County.
The announcement comes as Kansas is ranked fifth in the country for the highest rate of positivity in the latest report by the White House Coordination Group.
The report says Johnson, Sedgwick and Shawnee counties account for 42.2% of new cases in the past three weeks. A total of 86% of Kansas counties experience a moderate to high level of community prevalence.