Governor asks recovery team to work on mortgage and rental relief for Kansans

On Friday morning, Kansas reported 10,393 positive cumulative COVID-19 cases, an increase of 223 since Wednesday. There were a total of 232 deaths, an increase of 10 since Wednesday. (KDHE map)
This chart showed new cases by date in Kansas in blue and total cumulative cases in a yellow line. (KDHE chart)

Gov. Laura Kelly today called for a task force to review and determine how the state can assist Kansans who need rental emergency assistance and home mortgage assistance.

The governor said during a 4 p.m. news conference Friday that new legislation forced her to let go of the executive order prohibiting mortgage foreclosures and evictions.

She said the unemployment claims being filled by the Kansas Department of Labor, which has processed close to $1 billion in unemployment benefits in the state, should help with this need, and also the transition to reopening the economy should help Kansans get the resources they need.

“I know the economic impact of this virus has been brutal for homeowners and renters alike,” Gov. Kelly said.

She said she would explore an emergency rental and home mortgage assistance program through asking the S.P.A.R.K. reopening task force to review and determine the most feasible option for the state. She has asked the recovery team to make it a priority, she said.

The governor also said she planned to sign the coronavirus bill recently passed by the Legislature. She also said she supports a review and modernization of the Kansas Emergency Management Act.

Recommendation for most local communities to reopen

The state’s reopening plan called for Phase 3 to start no later than June 8. The governor’s emergency disaster declaration issued two weeks ago transferred reopening decisions back to the local level, the governor said. The state health department continues to monitor health metrics every day and supports local communities in a safe, gradual transition, she said.

All three key health metrics – disease spread, hospitalization and testing capacity – generally continue to trend downward, according to state health and emergency officials, and they recommend most local communities may move into Phase 3, she said. However, counties that are on a plateau or are increasing should not feel pressured to move into Phase 3, but can remain in Phase 2 until there is improvement, she said.

Wyandotte County will move into Phase 3 on Monday, June 8, according to local health officials at the June 4 Unified Government Commission meeting.

“We strongly encourage local communities to adhere to Phase 3 recommendations that mass gatherings remain limited to 45 individuals or fewer,” Gov. Kelly said.

Those who travel should follow KDHE travel and quarantine guidelines, she said. The virus is highly transmissible, it has a long incubation period and cases are frequently asymptomatic, she said. Without proper precautions, both mass gatherings and travel have the potential to greatly increase the chance of community spread, she said. Personal responsibility will be critical to keeping communities safe, she added.

All businesses, regardless of size, are strongly urged to continue following fundamental cleaning and public health practices, as stated by KDHE, she said. All businesses should follow industry-specific guidelines, outlined at https://covid.ks.gov/. She said people should continue to stay home if they feel sick, wash their hands frequently, continue to practice social distancing and protect themselves and others by wearing masks.

“I know life is beginning to feel a little more normal, but we are not out of the woods yet,” Gov. Kelly said. Businesses, parents and communities have made sacrifices to reach this point, and she encouraged them to continue good health practices so those efforts were not in vain.

Governor holding dialogue with black leaders

Gov. Kelly also said she wanted black Kansans to know that she is listening, and she is committed to using the power and privilege granted by the people of Kansas to help ensure this moment becomes a catalyst for structural change.

This week she said she and leaders in the black community have talked about what actions need to be taken in the state. She said it needs to be multi-faceted and needs to confront more than just problems in policing. She said this effort will take time.

Gov. Kelly also asked people to take precautions as they exercise their constitutional rights. She urged people to wear masks, continue social distancing, and if they have been to a protest, to get tested for COVID-19.

New outbreaks in education settings and at a jail

Kansas had 10,393 positive cumulative COVID-19 cases on Friday, an increase of 223 since Wednesday. There were a total of 232 deaths, an increase of 10 since Wednesday.

Dr. Lee Norman, Kansas secretary of health and environment, said although positive cases have been increasing, the metrics look good.

“The virus is not gone, but the trend lines are improving,” he said.

Kansas has 145 clusters of cases, with 101 still active, which accounted for 5,391 cases and 163 deaths, according to the KDHE.

According to KDHE statewide statistics, Kansas has one more death since Wednesday in corrections clusters, which increased from six to seven. There also were 10 more cases and one more deaths in gathering clusters; 39 more cases in group living clusters; 37 more cases and six more deaths in long-term care clusters, which increased by three; 66 more cases and two more deaths in meatpacking clusters; and 51 more cases, one more death and four more clusters in private industry.

In addition, day care and school clusters went from one to two, increasing from two cases to four cases. The two new cases were reported in staff in Ford County, he said. There are teams working on recommendations for schools in the fall, he added.

Dr. Norman said the health department received a call from a county jail about two positive cases in law enforcement. The state health department team responded in less than 24 hours, traveled there, and tested the 220 law enforcement officers and offenders. He said this sort of situation could be the new norm.

A news story from WIBW identified a jail in Geary County as having had COVID-19 testing.

The Unified Government’s COVID-19 web hub recently identified a new outbreak in Wyandotte County at VVF, 1705 Kansas Ave., Kansas City, Kansas, where there were six positive COVID-19 cases. The first cases were reported June 2, according to the website.

Two cases of multi-system inflammatory syndrome in Kansas

On the topic of multi-system inflammatory syndrome, Dr. Norman said two young Kansans have been in Children’s Mercy Hospital with this syndrome. While the syndrome is rare, a small percentage of COVID-19 child patients have gotten the syndrome a few weeks later.

The multi-system inflammatory syndrome may cause inflammation or infection of blood vessels, and has affected the kidneys, heart and blood vessels, and caused strokes even in young people, he said.

Dr. Norman said two infants, one 2 months old and one 4 months old, had been reported with active COVID-19 infection.

“We cannot let our guard down and cannot make the assumption that children get off scot-free from this,” Dr. Norman said. “They don’t.”

He said they are continuing to learn more about the coronavirus, gaining more understanding about the physiology of it.

To see the governor’s news conference, which has more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/GovLauraKelly/videos/1121820861538010/.

The state’s COVID-19 website is at https://covid.ks.gov/.

The UG’s COVID-19 information page is at https://alpha.wycokck.org/Coronavirus-COVID-19-Information.

Wyandotte County is currently under the state’s Phase 2 plan and will change to Phase 3 on Monday. See covid.ks.gov.

The state plan’s frequently asked questions page is at https://covid.ks.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Reopening-FAQ_5.19.2020_Final.pdf.

Test sites are listed at https://wyandotte-county-covid-19-hub-unifiedgov.hub.arcgis.com/pages/what-to-do-if-you-think-you-have-covid-19.

The CDC’s COVID-19 web page is at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html.

More information on Phase 3 of the reopening plan in Wyandotte County starting on June 8

The Unified Govrenment COVID-19 website reported a cumulative total of 1,453 positive cases of COVID-19 at 1 p.m. June 5, and 74 total deaths. There was an increase of 19 cases since Thursday afternoon. There was no change to the number of deaths. (UG COVID-19 website)

The movement to Phase 3 of the Ad Astra reopening plan in Wyandotte County was announced on Thursday night at the Unified Government Commission meeting.

According to Dr. Allen Greiner, chief medical officer for Wyandotte County, a health order has been issued for Wyandotte County to move to the next phase. The health order is mandatory in Wyandotte County, according to the Health Department.

A few of the details of the reopening were included in a story Thursday night in the Wyandotte Daily.

More details from the Unified Government’s Phase 3 reopening, according to a UG Health Department news release on Friday:

Effective June 8 at 12:01 a.m., Wyandotte County will move to Phase 3 of the Ad Astra Reopening Plan. The Ad Astra plan is available to view or download online at covid.ks.gov and wycokck.org/COVID-19.

Since May 22, Wyandotte County had been in Phase 2 of Governor Kelly’s Ad Astra Reopening Plan. On May 26, Gov. Laura Kelly announced that her reopening plan for the state would function as guidelines rather than an executive order. Wyandotte County had already issued a local health order for Phase 2, and a health order, signed by Dr. Allen Greiner, chief medical officer with the Unified Government Health Department, will also be issued for Phase 3. The order will be issued on June 5 and go into effect on June 8.

In the order, the medical officers and the Health Department have largely adopted the Phase 3 plan from the state, with some additional clarification and guidance, such as additional precautions for long-term care facilities.

Dr. Greiner acknowledged the progress so far in Wyandotte County, allowing the community to continue to move forward in a cautious manner.

“As a community, we’ve made good progress in terms of the actions we’ve taken to control and contain the spread of COVID-19 in Wyandotte County. Even though our numbers have looked more concerning than those in some adjacent counties over the past couple of months, in some key ways, I feel confident that our numbers are fairly stable and it’s appropriate to move forward right now,” Dr. Greiner said.

The earliest Wyandotte County would move out of Phase 3 would be June 22. However, Dr. Greiner noted that there is a strong possibility that the county will remain in Phase 3 beyond that date.

“We will remain vigilant in monitoring COVID-19 numbers in Wyandotte County. While we are excited to see the continuing reopening of our local economy, COVID-19 remains a threat in Wyandotte County. If the data shows an uptick in the spread of the virus, we might have to take a step back. While we certainly hope that’s not the case, we will continue to monitor COVID-19 data every single day, moving forward,” Dr. Greiner said. “If in seven to 10 days we’re still not seeing dramatic drops, or if we’re seeing slight upticks in the spread of the virus, that might extend how long we remain in Phase 3.”

Each phase of the Ad Astra plan in Wyandotte County will be in place for at least 14 days because the incubation period for COVID-19 is up to 14 days. This allows the Unified Government Health Department to monitor the population for further outbreaks of the virus, for the duration of one incubation period.

“The latest health data shows continued improvement in Wyandotte County’s fight against the coronavirus, allowing our community to re-open all businesses and further relax existing health orders,” said Mayor-CEO David Alvey. “Today’s announcement is great news for our residents and businesses, as by working together and through shared sacrifice we have significantly slowed the spread of COVID-19 in our community, and protected the most vulnerable. As we move forward, we’ll continue looking for opportunities to help our community recover and return to a sense of normalcy. Simultaneously, it is critical that Wyandotte Countians continue practicing safe social distancing and adhere to all public health guidelines as we move forward, as we don’t want to undo all that we’ve achieved over the last several months.”

Health officials: Reducing exposure remains the best defense

Even though the Ad Astra Phase 3 plan allows for further loosening of restrictions on individuals and businesses, COVID-19 remains a threat in Wyandotte County. If businesses can continue to operate remotely, they are encouraged to do so. The COVID-19 virus is still present in the community, and minimizing exposure by working remotely continues to be a recommended strategy for limiting its spread.

In Phase 3, all businesses may reopen, and all education, activities, venues and establishments may operate pursuant to mass gathering guidelines.

Vulnerable populations, including people over 60 years old, individuals who are immune-compromised, or who have underlying medical conditions should avoid close contact with others by practicing social distancing as much as is possible and avoiding large gatherings, especially when precautionary measures are difficult to maintain. The UG Health Department recommends wearing a mask or face-covering in public.

Under the Phase 3 plan for Wyandotte County, mass gatherings (where individuals are in one location and cannot maintain proper social distancing) of more than 45 people is prohibited. Other guidance of the Ad Astra Phase 3 plan include:

• Individuals are encouraged to wear masks in public settings.
• When in public, people should maintain at least six feet of distance between themselves and others (not including people who reside together).
• For employers, the level of on-site staffing is unrestricted, but social distancing is encouraged where possible.
• Businesses still must maintain at least six feet between consumers (individuals or groups). Restaurants or dining establishments can meet this requirement by using physical barriers to prevent the spread of virus between individual customers or groups of seated customers.
• Swimming pools are allowed to open, with social distancing and no more than 45 people. UG Parks and Recreation pool and spray park facilities will remain closed, but other pools in the area, such as neighborhood pools, may open if they choose.
• No visitations will be permitted at long-term care facilities to protect the health of the facility residents.
• Summer camps, fairs, festivals and outdoor venues may reopen as long as they can maintain at least six feet of distance between individuals or groups, beyond 45 individuals and at 50 percent or less of fire marshal approved capacity.

Exceptions to the activities and venues reopening:
• All education, activities, venues, and establishments may operate pursuant to mass gathering guidelines.
• Public pools and spray parks in Kansas, City, Kansas, will remain closed until further notice.

When will Wyandotte County move to the next phase?


Phase 3 will remain in effect until at least June 22. County health officials will continue to monitor key data on the status of COVID-19 to determine the next steps in the community’s re-opening process. Those metrics include:
• The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths in Wyandotte County and surrounding area hospitals over a 14-day period, and
• The percentage of positive tests over a 14-day period.

Why a phased approach to reopening?


Wyandotte County’s phased approach is designed to ensure two things:
• That local hospitals are not overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases.
• That vulnerable populations, including those over 60 years old, individuals who have compromised immune systems, or those who have underlying medical conditions are protected.

“Using a careful phased approach allows us to see how the COVID-19 numbers are evolving in our community and make informed decisions about future re-opening.” said Dr. Erin Corriveau, deputy medical officer. “Proceeding cautiously, and with guidance from at least two weeks of data, is crucial to protect those most vulnerable to serious illness, and thus minimize the number of community members who become seriously ill from COVID-19. We all want to get back to a sense of normalcy. But rushing the process without data indicating this is safe would mean doing so at the expense of our vulnerable friends and family.”

Health officials: Health Department continues to expand services

While the county continues to relax restrictions, the Health Department’s attention to medical, social and business needs continues. The Unified Government partnered with the University of Kansas Health System to provide clinical services via the county’s 3-1-1 call line for residents who have COVID-19 medical questions and needs. The call line is staffed by nurses and other staff from the University of Kansas Health System. Residents can call 3-1-1 to speak to a trained professional if they:

• Are worried they may have COVID-19 and want to talk to someone about their symptoms
• Want to learn more about testing
• Have other medical questions about COVID-19 and want to speak to a health professional

COVID-19 and the subsequent economic challenges it has caused have strained many Wyandotte County families, according to health officials. The social needs line through 3-1-1 helps residents who are seeking a variety of services, including:

• Food assistance
• Access to health care and health insurance
• Housing
• Employment assistance
• Mental health help

Trained community health workers (CHWs) are available to respond to requests for assistance and walk residents through the process of accessing the services they need. The Health Department and the University of Kansas Health System have partnered to provide CHW staffing for the social needs call line. For assistance, call 3-1-1 or 913- 573-5311, Monday through Sunday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

“We know our community has a lot of questions about the impact of COVID-19 on their families, their health, and their work,” said Juliann Van Liew, director of the Health Department. “The new features of 3-1-1 help people get answers to those questions and connect them to much-needed services during a time that has created significant personal and financial stress for many. The Public Health Department is also producing a COVID-19 Business Toolkit to help WyCo businesses protect their staff and customers.”

Area businesses can get their COVID-19 questions answered through 3-1-1, or by viewing resources and guidance at wycokck.org/COVID-19. Staff can assist businesses seeking to better understand how the reopening process affects their operations and what safety measures they need to take to protect their employees and customers. The 3-1-1 business call line is staffed by the UG Economic Development Department.

When will public buildings reopen?

Public buildings in Wyandotte County reopened on Tuesday, May 26, by appointment only. On June 8, public buildings will reopen without an appointment needed; however, residents are strongly encouraged to set an appointment or do business with the Unified Government where possible by visiting mywyco.wycokck.org. To protect the health and wellness of visitors and employees, visitors are required to have their temperatures taken before being admitted. Visitors are also required to wear masks or face coverings when entering a public building.

Municipal Court

The Kansas City, Kansas, Municipal Court will resume limited in-person court hearings on June 15. All court hearings will be by appointment only, and dockets will be limited in size to comply with the safety guidelines issued by the Wyandotte County health officer. Court cases previously scheduled during the shutdown will be slowly rescheduled for a new appointment date. Defendants, victims, and witnesses will be notified individually.

If you do not have an appointment, call before you make the trip to City Hall to ensure you will be seen. Several services provide access to the court remotely, and when possible, you should use these methods to prevent having to come into the office. These services include paying a ticket, applying for traffic diversion, requesting a remote hearing, checking your court date, updating your contact information, providing a document, requesting certified court records, requesting assistance with a suspended driver’s license, and requesting one-on-one customer support by phone or email. To contact Municipal Court, email kckmunicourt@wycokck.org or call 913-573-5200.

Motor Vehicle and Treasury

For all motor vehicle work not related to titles, the public is required to continue to use online, drop-off, or mail-in options. However, beginning Monday, June 8, the Annex Office (8200 State Ave., Kansas City, Kansas) will be open exclusively for motor vehicle title work. Those electing to use this option to complete title work will be required to have a spot in the online queue prior to arriving on location. To save a spot in line, visit wycokck.org/Auto.

Additional information about vehicle registration and title work will be provided later.

Residents or businesses with specific questions about doing business with a particular department should visit wycokck.org. Many services, like paying property taxes, renewing vehicle registration, or requesting a new traffic court date, can be completed online. Residents, businesses, and visitors may also contact 3-1-1 for assistance.

Residents with questions about the Phase 3 plan may contact 3-1-1 or visit the “ReStart WyCo” tab available at wycokck.org/COVID-19. To contact 3-1-1 outside of Wyandotte County, dial 913-573-5311. To learn more about the county’s COVID-19 response, access important FAQs, and view additional information, visit wycokck.org/COVID-19.

The UG’s COVID-19 information page is at https://alpha.wycokck.org/Coronavirus-COVID-19-Information.


Wyandotte County is currently under the state’s Phase 2 plan and will change to Phase 3 on Monday. See covid.ks.gov.

The state plan’s frequently asked questions page is at https://covid.ks.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Reopening-FAQ_5.19.2020_Final.pdf.

Test sites are listed at https://wyandotte-county-covid-19-hub-unifiedgov.hub.arcgis.com/pages/what-to-do-if-you-think-you-have-covid-19.

The CDC’s COVID-19 web page is at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html.