Gov. Laura Kelly today announced the Kansas Department of Health and Environment is recommending Kansas stay in Phase 3 of the state’s Ad Astra reopening plan, as COVID-19 cases went up by 982 since Friday.
There were about 3,500 new cases in the past week in Kansas, the steepest increase seen since the pandemic began, Gov. Kelly said at a news conference.
The state reported a cumulative total of 16,901 cases on Monday morning, with a total 280 deaths. There were three deaths since Friday.
The state’s Ad Astra plan is now voluntary guidance in most places. In Wyandotte County, the Unified Government has decided to continue with the state plan. The UG Health Department also has stated the county is under the governor’s statewide mandatory mask order, which began on Friday.
Gov. Kelly said the CDC is urging everyone to wear cloth masks in public, to socially distance and to practice good hand hygiene, “because these proactive steps work.” They are the best defense against COVID-19, she said.
Gov. Kelly also discussed an anti-Semitic cartoon that came out recently in the Anderson County Review, likening her mask order, designed to keep people safe, to the Holocaust. The cartoon showed the governor wearing a mask with the Star of David on it, while people were being put on a train. The cartoon’s caption stated, “Lockdown Laura says: Put on your mask … and step onto the cattle car.”
“The image was deeply offensive, and does not reflect the values of Anderson County, nor of Kansas,” Gov. Kelly said.
The Review’s publisher, Dane Hicks, apologized in a Facebook post to Jewish persons.
“I’m glad that Mr. Hicks recognized his significant lapse in judgment and apologized,” Gov. Kelly said. The cartoon is an example of how politicized common sense public health measures have become, she said.
Hicks, who also served as a GOP county official, posted an apology on Facebook recently: “After some heartfelt and educational conversations with Jewish leaders in the U.S. and abroad, I can acknowledge the imagery in my recent editorial cartoon describing state government overreach in Kansas with images of the Holocaust was deeply hurtful to members of a culture who’ve been dealt plenty of hurt throughout history – people to whom I never desired to be hurtful in the illustration of my point.”
He stated he was removing the cartoon, with his apologies. Hicks also posted on his blog that cartoons were “gross over-exaggerated caricatures designed to provoke debate and response.” Anderson County has about 8,000 people, and the largest city is Garnett. The county has reported only 5 COVID-19 cases.
Hicks stated on his blog that governmental overreach had been the hallmark of Gov. Kelly’s administration. He also stated that the Kelly administration’s authoritarian government reminded him of Nazi Germany. While Hicks apologized to Jewish persons in his written statement, he did not apologize to Gov. Kelly.
Gov Kelly said many elected leaders in this state and across the country have chosen to dismiss recommendations from public health experts in favor of short-term political points. Thanks to social media, anti-public health rhetoric and bogus science can be shared in homes all across the state, she said.
She said it had a corrosive impact on their ability to combat the spread of COVID-19.
“Until we have a vaccine, masks, social distancing and good hygiene are our best defenses against this virus,” Gov. Kelly said.
“Kansas is at a ‘make it or break it’ moment,” she said. “So let’s do the right and the smart thing.”
Gov. Kelly said there was an increase of 14 clusters in Kansas since last Wednesday. Seven active clusters are directly related to gatherings in bars and restaurants, she said. There are a total of 235 clusters, with 118 active ones, she said.
There are no clusters at this time connected to barbershops, hair salons, nail salons and close contact services, she added. It is no coincidence, she said. It is proof that masks and hygienic business practices work, she said.
“If we continue to ignore the experts, there is no question that Kansas will end up like other states that have not taken this threat seriously,” she said.
She cited Texas, where leaders resisted a mask order. Later, as cases skyrocketed, they had to close bars and reduce restaurants to half-capacity.
“I can’t stress the point enough,” Gov. Kelly said. “This is not about state and local control, and it is not a question of personal freedom. This is a matter of social responsibility while we’re dealing with the worst outbreak of a communicable virus in a century.”
Everyone has an opportunity to step up and keep their loved ones healthy and keep Kansas open for business, she said.
She said she knows there has been a lot of conflicting information, and that some officials would rather ignore the very real threat. Two-hundred eighty Kansans have died, she said.
“Public health experts in my administration and beyond continue to tell me we can save lives by wearing masks,“ she said.
Gov. Kelly said she knows that there are some who will be upset about the mask order or other actions she has taken, but her responsibility is to assess and confront the pandemic, regardless of the political consequences, she said.
“I will continue to do everything in my power to save lives and to keep our economy open, and I strongly encourage other elected leaders in Kansas to do the same,” Gov. Kelly said.
Positive COVID-19 cases in Wyandotte County
Wyandotte County reported 2,586 cumulative positive COVID-19 cases at 1 p.m. on Monday, and 85 total deaths, according to the UG’s COVID-19 website.
It was an increase of 15 cases from Sunday, and an increase of 137 cases since Friday. The number of deaths was the same as Sunday.
The University of Kansas Health System reported 18 COVID-19 patients on Monday morning, up from 17 on Thursday. There were eight patients in the intensive care unit and two on ventilators, according to Dr. Dana Hawkinson, medical director of infection prevention and control at KU Health System. It was an increase of two in the ICU. Numbers were lower than the 24 patients in the hospital 10 days ago. Dr. Hawkinson said there have been new admissions and discharges each day.
Dr. Steve Stites, chief medical officer at the KU Health System, said at a news conference Monday morning that the goal is to keep the number of COVID-19 cases low, until a vaccine is ready, so it doesn’t become a burden to the health care system.
COVID-19 is spiking in many places because the “stay-at-home” orders have been lifted and society is reopening, Dr. Stites said.
The only way to keep the COVID-19 numbers down is to wear a mask everywhere that you can’t physically distance, including restaurants, stores and groups, he said.
On Monday morning, according to KDHE, Johnson County reported 2,349 cases, an increase of 283 cases since Friday, and Leavenworth County reported 1,194 cases, an increase of 11 cases since Friday.
COVID-19 numbers in other counties on Monday, according to KDHE, included: Sedgwick, 1750; Finney, 1,549; Seward, 1,002; Shawnee County, 825; Lyon, 501; Shawnee, 825; Douglas, 354; Riley, 286; Crawford, 278; Saline, 151; Jackson (Kansas), 116; Reno, 96; and Geary, 95.
The governor’s news conference is at https://www.facebook.com/GovLauraKelly/videos/285653772527001.
The KU doctors’ news conference is at https://www.facebook.com/kuhospital/videos/2634829743449009.
The governor’s executive order on masks is at https://governor.kansas.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/20200702093130003.pdf.
The governor’s news release on the new mask order is at https://governor.kansas.gov/governor-laura-kelly-signs-executive-order-mandating-masks-in-public-spaces/.
The Wyandotte County mask order is at https://www.wycokck.org/WycoKCK/media/Health-Department/Documents/Communicable%20Disease/COVID19/06272020LocalHealthOfficerOrderRegardingMasks.pdf.
A news release on the Wyandotte County mask order is at https://www.wycokck.org/WycoKCK/media/Health-Department/Documents/Communicable%20Disease/COVID19/06272020PressReleaseLHORequiresPublicToWearMasks.pdf.
Wyandotte County now has posted an application for nonprofits, government agencies, school districts and businesses in Wyandotte County that want to apply for CARES Act funding. The web address is https://us.openforms.com/Form/6273fe80-8bba-4c18-b4e7-e551096d8a83.
For information on how to make an easy no-sew mask, visit http://wyandottedaily.com/how-to-make-a-no-sew-cloth-mask/.
For more information about COVID-19 testing, including other sites, visit https://wyandotte-county-covid-19-hub-unifiedgov.hub.arcgis.com/pages/what-to-do-if-you-think-you-have-covid-19. Residents also may call 3-1-1 for more information about testing.
The state’s COVID-19 test page is at https://www.coronavirus.kdheks.gov/280/COVID-19-Testing.
Residents may visit the UG COVID-19 website at https://alpha.wycokck.org/Coronavirus-COVID-19-Information or call 311 for more information.
Wyandotte County is currently under Phase 3. 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.
The CDC’s COVID-19 web page is at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html.