Governor urges residents to stay home for Thanksgiving

There are 22 counties following the governor’s mask order, 36 counties with their own mask orders and 47 others with no county mask order. (Illustration from Gov. Kelly’s social media)

Gov. Laura Kelly today urged Kansas residents to stay home during the Thanksgiving holiday, to stop the spread of COVID-19.

With COVID-19 rates still rising rapidly in Kansas, the governor cautioned residents to stay away from large groups, wear a mask and socially distance.

“I understand how discouraging and frustrating it is to not get together with family members over special holidays like Thanksgiving,” she said in a Wednesday news conference. “I know we all want this to be over. I know we all want to return to some semblance of normal.

“But we cannot return to any semblance of normal until this virus is under control, until we flatten the curve, until a vaccine is available, widely distributed and vaccination rates are significant. Until then, I encourage Kansans to hunker down, have dinner together over a Zoom call, share recipes with loved ones, shop online for good deals on Black Friday rather than shopping in person, prepare dishes for family and friends who may not be the most outstanding chefs and deliver them on their doorstep.

“Kansans are resilient,” Gov. Kelly said. “We have adapted to every curve COVID-19 has thrown at us, and Thanksgiving celebrations should be no different. Staying home is the best way to protect our families and communities, keep our businesses and schools open, and reduce hospitalizations.”

She said if residents are planning a Thanksgiving celebration or attending one, they should read CDC guidance at If hosts, they should ideally have an outdoor socially distanced meal with a small limited number of guests. If guests, they should bring their own food, utensils and plates.

In Wyandotte County, a health order is in place limiting gatherings to no more than 10 people, with masking and social distancing.

Kansas today reported 5,738 additional COVID-19 cases since Monday, for a cumulative total of 147,797. There were an additional 47 deaths statewide since Monday, for a cumulative total of 1,503.

“Unfortunately, the virus continues to spread through our communities at alarming rates,” Gov. Kelly said. Kansas remains in the red zone for cases on the white House coronavirus report, with the 12th highest case rate, also is in the red zone for test positivity with the fourth highest rate, and 92 percent of the counties in Kansas have moderate to high levels of COVID-19 community transmission, she said.

She advised residents not to become desensitized to the COVID-19 numbers. While a 2 percent mortality or casualty rate may sound low, it is about the same rate at the invasion of Normandy, when 150,000 soldiers stormed the beaches, 1,500 were killed and nearly 2,000 missing in action, she said.

The governor also warned that if the COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to rise, the ability to care for COVID-19 patients and other patients as well could be compromised, as hospitalizats ocntinue to fill up.

Dr. Lee Norman, Kansas secretary of health, said Kansas hospitals are running out of beds and especially staffed beds, with many operating at full capacity. Some hospitals are shutting down clinics to created increased capacity, and others are freeing up capacity through limiting elective surgeries.

He said the KDHE and the Kansas Department of Emergency Management are working with a contractor to coordinate the movement of patients between hospitals, identify needs, find where the beds are available and work with them to transfer the patients. Often this involves a patient who is at a smaller hospital who needs a higher level of care, such as critical care or intensive care. Patients would be returned to their home communities’ hospital once they improve.

Dr. Norman said front-line workers are facing fatigue with the flood of new cases pushing them to the brink. Many have worked nonstop for eight months, he said, and they are owed a debt of gratitude and appreciation.

“We owe them a commitment to live safely and protect the community from this virus,” Dr. Norman said.

Answering a question about the Leavenworth County Commission voting on Wednesday to opt out of the mask mandate, the governor said she would like every county to adopt a mask mandate; she is glad some cities (Leavenworth and Lansing) in Leavenworth County have passed their own mask mandate; and the county commission can reconsider it at any time.

She said she was very grateful to the county commissions and city councils that have put a mask mandate in place. Twenty-two local governments are following the governor’s mask mandate; 36 jurisdictions have their own county mask order; and 47 jurisdictions have no mask order.

Leavenworth County is the only one in the Greater Kansas City area that does not have a mask mandate. Wyandotte County has had a local mask mandate for around seven months.

Gov. Kelly said the state submitted a vaccination plan to the CDC which has been approved. They are now working to determine what the rollout will be and where, she said. Even though the plan has been approved, they don’t have all the information and data from the federal government yet, she said. That will be added to the plan once they receive it.

COVID-19 cases increase 180 in Wyandotte County

Wyandotte County reported 10,635 total cumulative cases on Wednesday, Nov. 25, an increase of 180 cases since Tuesday, according to the Unified Government COVID-19 webpage. There were 177 total deaths, no change since Tuesday.

At the University of Kansas Health System, there were 91 active COVID-19 patients on Wednesday morning , down two from Tuesday, according to Dr. Dana Hawkinson, medical direction of infection prevention and control. Three deaths were reported. There were 47 patients in the intensive care unit, an increase of three since Tueday, and 21 patients on ventilators, a decrease of two from Tuesday. In addition, 46 other COVID-19 patients were still hospitalized but were out of the acute infection phase, an increase of one from Tuesday. There were a total of 137 COVID-19 patients, a decrease of one since Tuesday.

HaysMed in Hays, Kansas, had 37 total COVID-19 inpatients, with four of them in the recovery phase, a decrease from 40 on Tuesday.

The Mid-America Regional Council KC Region COVID-19 Resource Hub reported 85,704 total cumulative COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, an increase of 1,440 cases since Tuesday. The region covers a nine-county area. There were 168 average new daily hospitalizations, a decrease of one since Tuesday. The average daily new deaths were 10, which is trending up. The numbers of those in the intensive care unit and on ventilators also is increasing in the Greater Kansas City area.

There were 12,765,039 cases in the United States on Wednesday, and a total of 262,090 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 dashboard.

At the KU Health System news conference on Wednesday morning, Dr. Doug GIrod, KU chancellor, discussed COVID-19 and plans for the next semester. After going home for the Thanksgiving break, students will not return until next year. The students may be taking an at-home COVID-19 test before returning in the spring. The spring semester will start a week later and there will be no spring break. KU officials said the testing and masking program on campus has been successful.

As the holidays may be spreader events, all KU sports events, including basketball, will not have fans present for the first few weeks of December.

The doctors also discussed quarantining at home when a college student returns for Thanksgiving.

COVID-19 testing available Monday

Free COVID-19 testing by the UG Health Department will be available on Monday, Nov. 30. There will be no UG Health Department testing on Thursday and Friday of this week, because of the holiday. For more information, visit

For more information about the testing site at the former Kmart location, visit

Gov. Laura Kelly’s news conference is online at

The KU doctors’ news conference is at

The new Wyandotte County health order with a limit of 10 persons to a gathering, and a closing time of 10 p.m. for restaurants and bars, with other new restrictions, is at

The UG COVID-19 webpage is at

The KDHE’s COVID-19 webpage is at

The KC Region COVID-19 Hub dashboard is at

The Wyandotte County page on the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 website is at

The CDC’s COVID-19 webpage is at

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