Governor orders statewide mask-wearing, with cases on the rise

Wyandotte County reported two more deaths on Monday morning, and 19 more positive COVID-19 cases. (From UG COVID-19 webpage)
The state of Kansas reported an increase in new cases recently, in blue on the right. The total cases are the yellow line. (KDHE graph)
Wyandotte County’s 7-day rolling average of cases has been increasing recently. (From UG COVID-19 webpage)

Wyandotte and Douglas counties soon will not be the only counties on the Kansas side of the Kansas City metro area wearing masks. Gov. Laura Kelly today ordered the entire state to begin wearing masks when in public beginning at 12:01 a.m. Friday, July 3.

Kansas experienced 905 additional COVID-19 cases from Friday to Monday, and the rate of cases is increasing, the governor said in a news conference Monday afternoon. There were six more deaths, she said.

Wyandotte County had two more deaths between Sunday and Monday, according to the Unified Government COVID-19 page. It also had an increase of 10 cases on Monday, and 98 new positive cases reported on Sunday.

Today, the world hit 500,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, Gov. Kelly said, and has reached 10 million confirmed cases across the globe.

Gov. Kelly said several states are now seeing surges in COVID-19 rates, including Texas, Florida, Arizona and California. She said Kansas will add two states, South Carolina and Florida, to travel quarantines. Anyone coming into Kansas from those states starting Tuesday will have to quarantine for 14 days upon their return here. Alabama, Arizona and Arkansas also are on the list, which is at www.coronavirus.kdheks.gov/175/Travel-Exposure-Related-Isolation-Quaran.

“COVID-19 is still in our communities and it is still spreading,” Gov. Kelly said. “Until a vaccine is widely manufactured and distributed, our only defense against COVID-19 is social distancing, maintaining proper hygiene, staying home when you’re sick and wearing a mask.”

When the pandemic first hit, there were mixed messages about masks, she said.

“Now, the evidence could not be more clear,” she said. “Wearing masks is not only safe, but necessary to avoid another shutdown.”

She said they are not seeing large clusters of cases in places where masks are worn in Kansas, including in barbershops and hair salons. However, they are seeing clusters in places where masks are not worn, she added.

Everyone in a public space must wear a mask beginning on July 3, she said. The order will not change where people can go, it just means if they are around other people, they must wear a mask. If people are outside and a social distance of 6 feet cannot be maintained, they must wear a mask, she said.

She added the state will release more information on masks before the Fourth of July holiday begins. She said many other states are issuing mask orders, and that those from both parties are supporting them. Also, she said the attorney general’s office would help craft the orders. Also, the State Finance Council will be asked to approve the order.

“I know it’s frustrating, I know we want it to be over, but we’re still in it and we’re in it together,” she said. She added she knew Kansans would step up to the challenge and protect others and keep the state open for business.

“The virus is what controls this, not us,” she said. “The mask is a good protection from the virus. It’s important to recognize this.”

“This is the one way we have to slow the virus, until we have a vaccine,” Gov. Kelly said.

Gov. Kelly said enforcement of this would remain on the local level, and she strongly encouraged local elected officials and local health officials to get on board with it and enforce it.

“This is all we have right now to fight this virus,” Gov. Kelly said.

Wyandotte County issued a health order last week to mandate mask-wearing beginning at 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 30. Kansas City, Missouri, issued an order for mandatory masks beginning Monday, June 29.

Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle stated that, “Once again, a one size fits all order doesn’t work for our diverse state. This Governor is inconsistent; one day giving authority to local government and the next taking it back, causing total confusion. She must focus on fixing our record-breaking budget shortfall rather than diverting attention away from the letter she received today from our Attorney General stating that her budget plan violates Kansas statutes. Governor Kelly, manage your agencies, and allow local officials to do their jobs.”

In other news, Gov. Kelly said Accenture will come in to work with the Kansas Department of Labor, providing assistance to help with unemployment claims. The state has experienced technical issues during the past few months with the older technology and computers it has.

Accenture, which has worked with more than six other states on COVID-19 related relief programs, will be evaluating and making recommendations for claims processing, call center and a technology review.

As positive COVID-19 cases increase, doctors look at what’s in the future

Doctors at the University of Kansas Health System weighed in at a news conference Monday morning on whether an increase in positive case numbers was a surge, and where the numbers may be headed.

Dr. David Wild, vice president of performance improvement at the University of Kansas Health System, said he didn’t think the recent increases were a surge or a second wave. He said in Europe, the number of cases in the first wave came to an end. That didn’t happen in the United States – there wasn’t an end.

“This is a continuation of the first wave,” Dr. Wild said. As society reopens, physical distancing becomes harder, then they see the spread of the virus, he added.

Dr. Dana Hawkinson, medical director of infection control and prevention at the KU Health System, said it was similar to a Big Bang diagram. After the initial bang, there is inflation. The CDC now estimates about 20 million cases in the United States, based on serology testing. Some of the patients may have been asymptomatic, but the disease continues to increase, he added. Health workers are trying to reduce the spread as much as possible.

Dr. Ed Ellerbeck, chair of population health at the KU Medical Center, said whether they’re in the second wave or not, they’re clearly not in the fall outbreak. He said he sees it as “waves on waves.”

Earlier cases occurred in institutions or places where people couldn’t socially isolate, such as nursing homes, food production and incarcerated individuals. Now they are seeing a much younger population, those who have been socially isolated the past few months and are now going out.

With mandatory mask orders going into effect Monday in Kansas City, Missouri, and Tuesday in Kansas City, Kansas, Dr. Ellerbeck said there may have been mixed messages earlier when they talked about numbers of people who could gather together.

In phase 3 of the Kansas Ad Astra plan, up to 45 people could gather together.

“Those numbers may have clouded the issue,” Dr. Ellerbeck said.

If you are encountering another person, and you’re not sure of their background, he said, you need to take action and institute personal mechanisms, including wearing a mask.

He said masks reduce aerosolization by persons who might be infected. On the recipient side, they can reduce viral transfer by sixfold or greater, he said. Studies have shown the masks reduce transmission, he said.

Dr. Hawkinson said wearing masks was a good idea. Individually, the cloth masks filter out 40 to 80 percent of what a surgical mask can do, he said.

Dr. Wild said unfortunately, a survey has shown that the American population is wearing masks less than other countries and the number who are wearing masks is declining.

“There are really good reasons to wear a mask, to protect the self and others,” he said. “It’s not about control but how we take care of each other.”

While some persons say they won’t wear a mask unless they are ill, the problem is the virus can spread without symptoms, Dr. Hawkinson said. A large number of people don’t know they have the virus, he said.

He said the doctors just give data and medical advice, and keep the conversation as a health issue, not a political issue.

On another topic, according to KU Health System officials, the three-day blood drive last week at KU Health System collected 227 units of blood, which surpassed the goal of 185. The Community Blood Center has been reporting it had only a three-day supply of blood when it usually has seven days on hand.

Two more COVID-19 deaths reported in Wyandotte County

Two more COVID-19 related deaths were reported in Wyandotte County on Monday, June 29, according to the Unified Government COVID-19 website.

The total cumulative deaths are now 82, according to the UG COVID-19 website. The number of new cases went up 19 from Sunday, for a cumulative total of 2,210.

The state of Kansas reported an increase of 905 cases from Friday to Monday morning, according to statistics from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, There were 270 deaths total, an increase of six since Friday. Two more counties reported COVID-19 cases, for a total of 97 counties.

The University of Kansas Health System on Monday morning reported 18 positive COVID-19 patients in the hospital, with six in the intensive care unit and three on ventilators, according to Dr. Dana Hawkinson, medical director of infection control and prevention. There were some discharges and a few admissions, he said.

COVID-19 testing available


Free pop-up COVID-19 tests will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, June 30, at St. Patrick Catholic Church, 1086 N. 94th St., Kansas City, Kansas.


The pop-up tests are offered trough the Wyandotte County Health Equity Task Force, in conjunction with the Health Department.

An appointment is not necessary. Those who have COVID-19 symptoms or people who may have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 can be tested.


The UG Health Department also offers COVID-19 testing from 1 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday in the Health Department parking lot, 619 Ann Ave., Kansas City, Kansas. The free tests are for people who live or work in Wyandotte County and have had symptoms in the past 48 hours.

The governor’s news conference is at https://www.facebook.com/GovLauraKelly/videos/3154697867948519/

The KU doctors’ news conference is at https://www.facebook.com/kuhospital/videos/594391701218183/.

The governor’s news release on mask-wearing is at https://governor.kansas.gov/governor-laura-kelly-announces-masks-must-be-worn-statewide/.

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.

Information about the Wyandotte County health order on masks is at https://www.wycokck.org/WycoKCK/media/Health-Department/Documents/Communicable%20Disease/COVID19/06272020PressReleaseLHORequiresPublicToWearMasks.pdf

The Wyandotte County health order on masks is online at https://www.wycokck.org/WycoKCK/media/Health-Department/Documents/Communicable%20Disease/COVID19/06272020LocalHealthOfficerOrderRegardingMasks.pdf

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


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.

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