New mask amendment will apply to exercising indoors and children over 5 in day care and school

The seven-day rolling average of positive COVID-19 cases in Wyandotte County showed some increases recently. (From UG COVID-19 webpage)

Wear a mask when you exercise at the gym and make sure your child over 5 wears one, too, when in day care.

Wyandotte County has amended its mask order to include indoor exercising at gyms and also to include children over 5 in day care or school, according to a news release from the Unified Government Health Department.

The amendment takes effect in a few hours, at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, July 15.

With the exception of the two new amendments, and another amendment defining public work spaces, the rest of Gov. Laura Kelly’s mask amendment that went into effect July 3 still applies in Wyandotte County. The county is under a mandatory mask order from the local health officer.

The new amendment on indoor exercising stated, “Athletes who are engaged in indoor activities and those exercising indoors are hereby required to wear masks or face coverings. This includes both team sports activities and in gym/weightlifting settings.”

Solitary outdoor exercise will remain exempt from the face covering requirement, the amendment stated.

Also, “All children over 5 years of age and all staff in daycare/childcare/educational settings are required to wear masks or face coverings at all times unless actively eating, drinking, or sleeping. Medical exemptions from LHO 7/6/20 remain in effect,” the new mask amendment stated.

“We’ve gotten many questions about the mask order, especially as it relates to exercise and sports. Socially distanced outdoor exercise is relatively safe, but we are really concerned about the potential for spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 with indoor exercise, whether it is people working out at a gym or participating in team sports,” Dr. Erin Corriveau, deputy medical officer with the Unified Government Health Department, said in a news release. “Wearing a mask while exercising indoors may be a bit uncomfortable, and it takes some getting used to, but there’s no scientific evidence to indicate that it is harmful to wear a mask during exercise.”

There is an expectation of new guidelines being issued soon at the state level for opening schools in Kansas, which are expected to require wearing masks. Wyandotte County has earlier issued its own education guidelines.

“Another concern was about childcare settings. We feel it is incredibly important for face coverings to be worn in these settings for the protection of the children, staff, and their families,” said Dr. Allen Greiner, chief medical officer with the Health Department. “We realize this is an adjustment for families and childcare providers, but it’s the best way to minimize the risk of the coronavirus spreading in settings like this.”

Masks are required locally for children over age 5, but the CDC actually recommends masks for anyone age 2 or older. Children under age 2 should never wear masks as it is a safety hazard at that age, according to the Health Department.

These new amendments follow a local health officer order that was issued on July 6 adopting Gov. Kelly’s Executive Order 20-52 requiring masks for the state, with one amendment for Wyandotte County. This previous amendment remains in effect:

“The term ‘Public Space’ includes public and private offices where more than one individual is congregating, workspaces where more than one individual is present, and any area of the office complex where more than one individual is present, such as a kitchen or break room.”

Certain exceptions to the mask requirement for health, safety and accessibility remain in effect, such as:

• People age 5 years or under – children age 2 years and under in particular should not wear a face covering because of the risk of suffocation.
• People with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents wearing a face covering.
• People who are deaf or hard of hearing, or communicating with a person who is deaf or hard of hearing, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.

See the full governor’s Executive Order 20-52 for more information on exceptions:

For more information on COVID-19 in Wyandotte County, go to or call 3-1-1.

The new Wyandotte County mask order amendment is online at

Long road back for one COVID-19 survivor

At 1 p.m. Tuesday, the Unified Government COVID-19 webpage reported 3,114 positive cumulative cases in Wyandotte County, up 49 cases from 1 p.m. Monday. The number of deaths was the same, 88. The number of hospitalizations was 36, up seven from Monday, according to the UG COVID-19 website. (From UG COVID-19 website)

Recovery has been a hard journey for one COVID-19 survivor.

Anil Gharmalkar of Parsons, Kansas, who participated in a video news conference Tuesday morning at the University of Kansas Health System, is still feeling some of the aftereffects of COVID-19, months after he got it and then recovered from it.

A small business owner who drives a delivery truck, Gharmalkar began feeling fatigued and having trouble breathing in April while on the road in Indiana, he said. He thinks he might have got infected when he was out on the road making deliveries in Louisiana. He had recovered from a bout of pneumonia in March.

It took him about a day and a half longer to get home than usual because of the fatigue. He went to a hospital in Parsons, where he was put on a ventilator. Then he was transferred to the KU Health System in Kansas City, Kansas, where he was in the intensive care unit for 10 days, and five more days in a regular room before being discharged.

He came back to the hospital once for treatment of inflammation of his throat. Inflammation is not unusual in COVID-19 patients.

While he doesn’t have the virus now, he is taking steroids, his voice is hoarse and he is still dealing with some aftereffects of COVID-19.

Some Parsons residents don’t wear masks, and now they have been asking him to wear a mask when he is around them, thinking he might spread the disease.

Dr. Dana Hawkinson, medical director of infection prevention and control at KU Health System, said other people are more of a risk to Gharmalkar than he is to them now. In general, it is believed patients cannot spread the infection after about two weeks of first showing symptoms.

Tests have come back from his family, showing they did not get COVID-19 from him, he said. His family was assiduously following cleaning and health guidelines, Gharmalkar said.

Dr. Hawkinson said they don’t really know if Gharmalkar can get COVID-19 again. They are learning more about the coronavirus every day.

“It takes six to 12 months to fully recover from episodes as serious as yours,” Dr. Steve Stites, chief medical officer at KU Health System, told Gharmalkar.

“I would encourage people to be more careful,” Gharmalkar said. .

“I definitely think there’s quite a large misunderstanding on what recovery means,” he said. What he has seen in survivor groups is there’s quite a long road back, he said.

One of the hardest things about the whole ordeal is to ask questions and to have people tell you they just don’t know the answer, he added.

Dr. Hawkinson said they are continuing to see exponential spread of the coronavirus. Case numbers in a lot of states continue to increase.

“I think we all need a full culture change,” he said.

He said they need to work toward keeping everyone healthy, not gathering in groups, washing hands, wearing masks and socially distancing to stop the spread of COVID-19.

People can reopen society, but they have to do it in a thoughtful, conservative way and not go back to the normal, Dr. Stites said.

“It’s still a COVID world. We want to work toward a post-COVID world,” he said. Everyone’s halfway through it now, he added.

On Tuesday morning, KU Health system reported 25 COVID-19 patients in the hospital, including two children, up from 24 on Monday, according to Dr. Hawkinson. There were eight patients in the ICU, down from 10 on Monday, and two patients on ventilators, down from three on Monday. The age range of patients in the ICU was 33 to 83.

At 1 p.m. Tuesday, the Unified Government COVID-19 webpage reported 3,114 positive cumulative cases in Wyandotte County, up 49 cases from 1 p.m. Monday. The number of deaths was the same, 88. The number of hospitalizations was 36, up seven from Monday, according to the UG COVID-19 website.

Kansas removes three states from its quarantine list

On Tuesday, Kansas removed Alabama, Arkansas and South Carolina from its quarantine list, according to a news release.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment modified its international travel list from all international travel to just countries with a CDC Level 3 Travel Health Notice and restrictions on entry into the United States, plus Bahrain and French Guiana. Those traveling internationally are subject to CDC re-entry guidance and protocols.

The list is for all persons returning to or entering Kansas on the dates listed. The state reviews the list every two weeks. Visitors and Kansas residents need to quarantine for 14 days if they have traveled to:

• Florida on or after June 29.
• Arizona on or after June 17.
• Been on a cruise ship or river cruise on or after March 15.
• International travel to Bahrain or French Guiana on or after July 14.
International travel on or after July 14 to countries with a CDC Level 3 Travel Health Notice, including China, Iran, European Schengen area, United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland and Brazil. International travelers must follow CDC guidance and protocols

Others needing to continue quarantining:
• Anyone subject to a travel-related quarantine for a state or country previously on the travel-related quarantine list must complete their 14-day quarantine period.
• Received notification from public health officials (state or local) that you are a close contact of a laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19.

Kansas bases its list on new case rates by population size, and Kansas numbers are increasing significantly, according to Dr. Lee Norman, Kansas secretary of health. The Kansas cases by population base have approaches or surpassed the states they had on the list, he said.

“We must do better, Kansas,” Dr. Norman said. “Practice social distancing, wear a mask, stay home if you’re sick, avoid large gatherings. Each one of us is responsible for our actions.”

Critical infrastructure sector employees who have traveled to these destinations should contact their local health department regarding instructions for application of these quarantine orders while working, according to KDHE. Critical infrastructure employees, such as public health, law enforcement, food supply, need to have the staffing resources to continue serving Kansans so the local health department may allow a modified quarantine. The only exemption for these quarantine mandates for critical infrastructure sector employees is work – they are not to go any other locations outside of work.

More information is at

To view the KU doctors’ news conference, visit

The governor’s executive order on masks is at

The governor’s news release on the mask order is at

The Wyandotte County mask order is at

A news release on the Wyandotte County mask order is at

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

For information on how to make an easy no-sew mask, visit

For more information about COVID-19 testing, including other sites, visit Residents also may call 3-1-1 for more information about testing.

The state’s COVID-19 test page is at

Residents may visit the UG COVID-19 website at or call 311 for more information.

Wyandotte County is currently under Phase 3. See

The state plan’s frequently asked questions page is at

The CDC’s COVID-19 web page is at

Lane, ramp closures scheduled at Lewis and Clark Viaduct Bridge

Lane and ramp closures are scheduled this week on the Lewis and Clark Viaduct Bridge. Temporary ramp closures: P1 – Eastbound I-70. P2 – Minnesota Avenue. P3 – Washington Boulevard. P4 – Fairfax Trafficway to eastbound I-70 (KDOT map)

Eastbound I-70 will have intermittent lane and ramp closures this week to unload bridge girders for the Lewis and Clark Viaduct Bridge project, according to the Kansas Department of Transportation. Each I-70 closure could last for up to 20 minutes.

Work will occur on Tuesday, July 14, and Thursday, July 16. Two girders will be placed each day from about 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., weather permitting.

Traffic will be stopped on eastbound I-70 and several on-ramps to unload each girder. The following ramps will be temporarily closed; Fairfax Trafficway to eastbound I-70, Washington Boulevard, Minnesota Avenue and eastbound I-70. Traffic will be controlled using construction trucks and digital message boards.

Motorists are encouraged to find alternate routes during the closure times. This is the second round of closures needed at this location to unload bridge girders for the viaduct as the project continues – the first round of closures took place in early June.

KDOT urges all motorists to be alert and obey the warning signs when approaching and driving through a highway work zone, the spokesman stated. To stay aware of all road construction projects across Kansas go to or call 5-1-1. Drive safely and always wear your seat belt.