Gov. Kelly issues order limiting gatherings to stop spread of COVID-19

Gov. Laura Kelly today issued an executive order requiring Kansas to immediately adopt CDC guidelines to stop gatherings of 50 or more for eight weeks.

The response to the COVID-19 outbreak was one in a series of steps the governor has taken in recent days, including declaring a state of emergency and strongly advising public schools to close schools this week.

She said she was meeting later today with representatives of the hospitality and restaurant industry, and business representatives to discuss the situation.

The governor mentioned that some restaurants are implementing new strategies, such as “grab and go” meals, where customers pick up food and then eat at home.

The governor said she also has asked the Kansas Corporation Commission to suspend utility disconnections until April 15. This covers electric, gas and telecom. In the Kansas City area, Evergy already has announced it will suspend disconnections. She said she also is asking other utilities not regulated by KCC to suspend disconnections.

The Kansas City, Kansas, Board of Public Utilities also announced it was suspending disconnections today, for those facing hardship as a result of the coronavirus. The BPU also encouraged customers to use methods other than face-to-face to pay their bills, such as mail, by phone, automatic withdrawals and online payments. There are self-service kiosks located at the BPU lobby and in grocery stores.

The steps the state is taking are designed to flatten the curve of the rise of the COVID-19, the governor said. She encouraged residents to use good handwashing and stay home when they are sick.

Dr. Lee Norman, Kansas health secretary, said there are now 11 COVID-19 patients in Kansas, including three new positive cases last night. So far there have been 342 negative tests, for a rate of about 4.7 percent positive, he said. There are about 150 to 200 tests being done per day by the state.

The three most recent positive cases were people who were exposed to one Johnson County person who was identified as a positive case last week, Dr. Norman said. They were at a social gathering, he said. Johnson County now has eight COVID-19 cases, according to its website.

Dr. Norman said staff members at a nursing home in Wyandotte County where there was a COVID-19 patient all tested negative for COVID-19, and the staff there should be commended for being attentive to safety precautions and practicing good hygiene.

When asked about 125 or more people gathering in the Capitol on a regular basis, Gov. Kelly said the rule applies to people who are congregating together and standing close together. She also urged the Kansas Legislature to get its work done quickly and go home, so that the question is a moot point.

Schools that return to classes next week or after the end of the month will implement more spacing between students, limiting large gatherings. The procedures are in the process of being worked out.

KDHE has a website for more information on COVID-19, at http://www.kdheks.gov/coronavirus.

The Wyandotte County website on COVID-19 is at https://www.wycokck.org/COVID-19.

The CDC also has a COVID-19 website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/.

More information from the news conference is available from a video on the governor’s Facebook website at https://www.facebook.com/GovLauraKelly/videos/209628907013943/?tn=%2Cd%2CP-R&eid=ARAzcC6SjTj-_03_YaAeP7SD1f9OQPy-WUo_Qo_IVhM4CRKTZpc8nlpC6AD2k3cuB1PWScJD3ez0moSR .

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