Governor announces new COVID-19 measures

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly said Wednesday she is issuing a new executive order calling on county commissioners across the state to enact their own local order on face masks to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The counties will be given one week to enact a local order, and if they do not, they will fall under statewide guidelines.   Counties that already have a face mask order will be allowed to keep their order in place.

Kelly said each county is facing unique challenges with the coronavirus.  She said her order will create a standard for counties to follow, but they will have flexibility to decide how to implement it.

The Governor said her order is a modification from the mask order she issued in July.   She said she has talked with legislative leaders about the order and had an encouraging response.

Kelly also announced a new partnership between her office and the Kansas Leadership Center for a series of virtual meetings with community leaders to generate grassroots support for an increased commitment to reducing the spread of the virus.   She said the meetings began this week and will conclude by late December.

The Governor said Kansas has reached a new stage in the fight against COVID-19, “and how we choose to respond can turn the tide for our businesses, our hospitals and our schools.”    The governor said she has heard concerns from parents about the effect of another school shutdown.  She said she is committed to protecting businesses and schools, but she needs help from Kansans.   She said “with your support, we can protect our businesses, continue educating our kids, and avoid further preventable deaths and hospitalizations.”

A majority of the state’s 105 counties still do not have mask mandates, and they could still opt out of the Governor’s order under a bill approved by state lawmakers last summer.