Kansas stricter on gatherings; 1M people told to stay home
Posted Mar 24, 2020 1:00 AM
TOPEKA (AP) —Shelter-in-place orders are about to take effect for about a third of Kansas' population to slow the spread of coronavirus, and Gov. Laura Kelly announced Monday that she will tighten restrictions on public gatherings.
Five counties with about 1 million of the state's 2.9 million residents were telling residents to stay home starting Tuesday, except for essential business, such as buying food or seeking medical care. They include Johnson County, which is the state's most populous county, three other neighboring counties in or touching the Kansas City area, and Douglas County, which is home to the main University of Kansas campus.
Kelly also said she would issue an executive order Tuesday to ban public gatherings of more than 10 people. Kelly last week banned gatherings of more than 50 people, but President Donald Trump's administration recommended the tougher restriction.
Kelly said she is not yet issuing a statewide shelter-in-place order as governors have done in some other states, including California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan and New York, because 89 of Kansas' 105 counties had yet to see a confirmed coronavirus case as of Monday morning. But she warned that such an order could become “unavoidable in the coming days.”
“Confirmed, positive cases are expected to tick upward at a rapid pace over the next 10 days,” Kelly said during a Statehouse news conference. “The crisis continues to evolve by the hour.”
Kansas has confirmed more than 80 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. That's an increase of at least 18 since Sunday. It has had two COVID-19-related deaths, one in Johnson County and the other in neighboring Wyandotte County in the Kansas City area.
For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness.
Dr. Lee Norman, the state's health secretary, said he expects Kansas to have between 300 and 400 confirmed cases by the end of March.
Norman said Friday that the state was close to running out of testing kits, which would force it to rely on private labs for testing. But he said the state obtained enough kits Saturday to test 700 patients, which should last into next week.
Besides Johnson County and Douglas County, which is home to the college town of Lawrence, shelter-in-place orders also take effect Tuesday in Wyandotte and Leavenworth counties in the Kansas City area, and Miami County to the south, where many residents work in Johnson County. All five orders will remain in effect until April 23.
Among those with the virus is someone who works at the Leavenworth VA Medical Center, officials said Monday. The VA Eastern Kansas Health Care System called the risk of transmission to other patients and staff low.
A sixth county, Doniphan County in the state's northeast corner, also was imposing a stay-at-home order starting Thursday and lasting through April 6.
Monday afternoon, Sedgwick County commissioners approved a stay-at-home order for Wichita, the state's largest city. The county's health director was expected to sign the order to begin Wednesday.
The new coronavirus is spreading quickly around the world, including across Kansas, and setting off a range of responses.
Kansas News Service is boiling down key developments in the state and
updating the status regularly here. To read this information in Spanish,
go here. This list was last updated at 2:35 p.m. March 29.
CASES AND DEATHS
321 cases, including two from out of state (see map for counties)
6 deaths (4 in Wyandotte County, 2 in Johnson County)
NOTE: These figures only
include cases confirmed with lab tests and do not represent the real,
unknown total. Community transmission is occurring in parts of Kansas.
STATEWIDE ORDER TO STAY HOME
Gov. Laura Kelly
is instituting a statewide stay-at-home order as of 12:01 a.m. March
30. It will last until at least April 19. Stay-at-home orders allow
people to take care of essential activities (such as grocery shopping or
going to work) as well as exercise outside, but otherwise keep to
The state’s stay-at-home order supersedes at least
13 county-by-county orders. Should the state’s order lift before a
county’s is through, the county can choose to keep its own in effect.
SHOULD I SELF-QUARANTINE?
For the whole state: The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is now mandating home
quarantine for 14 days if you've traveled to the places listed below.
If you come down with symptoms (such as a fever of 100.4 degrees or
higher, coughing or shortness of breath) during those 14 days, contact
your health care provider and explain your potential COVID-19
Louisiana or anywhere in Colorado on or after March 27.
States with known widespread community transmission (California, Florida, New York and Washington) on or after March 15.
Illinois or New Jersey on or after March 23.
Eagle, Summit, Pitkin and Gunnison counties in Colorado (if your visit was March 8th or later).
ships or river cruises on or after March 15. Anyone previously told to
quarantine because of their cruise ship travel should also finish out
International destinations on or after March
15. Anyone previously told to quarantine because of their international
travel should also finish out their quarantine.
of March 27, Kansas health secretary Lee Norman said the state lab was
handling 175 samples a day. But Kansas will receive more equipment
within about a week that will let it handle 700 to 1,000 samples daily,
though shortages of specialized supplies such as nose swabs may still hamper work at times.
said there’s enough capacity in the state, now that testing has ramped
up through commercial labs and hospitals. State testing is reserved for
high-risk groups, such as sick nursing home residents and health care
workers. Others can ask their doctor or nurse practitioner to order
through private labs.
What Kansas still lacks is enough testing material to study COVID-19 rates among people without symptoms.
KANSAS HAS DECLARED A STATE OF EMERGENCY. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
gives the state government more power to marshal resources and triggers
the state's response plan. The state Legislature has extended Kelly's
declaration through May (and can extend it), with the aim of giving her
the ability to make certain decisions when lawmakers aren’t in session.
On March 22, Kelly eased state rules
to expand the use of telemedicine, to temporarily license more health
workers and to allow heavier trucks on Kansas highways hauling relief
supplies. On March 23, she ordered a ban on evictions if a tenant was
unable to pay because of the coronavirus crisis. And she extended the
income tax filing deadline to July 15, in line with a delay for filing
federal tax forms.
HOW ARE UNIVERSITIES RESPONDING?
University of Kansas and Wichita State: All of them will go fully
online for the end of the school year. Students at K-State and KU will
need special exemptions to remain in dorms.
Washburn and Fort Hays State are online. Newman University expanded
spring break for two weeks (March 14 to March 29). Johnson County
Community College will close campus from March 14-29, and all courses
will restart online March 30. Pittsburg State started break a day early
and will resume classes indefinitely online on March 30.
HOW ABOUT K-12 SCHOOLS?
Laura Kelly and Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson have shut
down all K-12 schools, public, private and parochial, for the rest of
the 2019-20 school year. They had initially issued a strong
recommendation that schools close March 16 through 20.
Some county health departments had already issued similar orders.
A Kansas State Department of Education task force has issued guidance to school districts on how to continue some amount of student learning.
WHAT’S BEEN CANCELED OR SUSPENDED?
governor’s executive order temporarily banning landlords from evicting
businesses or residential tenants is effective until May 1. That same
order put in a moratorium on any mortgage foreclosures through the same
The governor mandated on March 23, through an executive order, that gatherings be restricted to less than 10 people.
Kansas state workers: Access
to the Statehouse is limited to official business only, and lawmakers
went on break early. Kelly wanted most state employees to stay home for
at least two weeks starting March 23.
State prisons: The
Kansas Department of Corrections ended visitation at all state
facilities, and will “re-evaluate on an ongoing basis.” It urges
families to talk to inmates through email, phone calls and video
Electric companies: Evergy, which serves
950,000 customers in Kansas, will not disconnect residential or business
services for an unspecified amount of time due to the “unprecedented
challenge” of coronavirus that “may result in customers facing
unexpected or unusual financial strain.”
Casinos: All four state-owned gaming facilities will close at the end of business on March 17, and remain so until at least March 30.
Public events: Many events and public places around the state have been canceled until at least the end of March.
Kansas State High School Athletics Association canceled the state
basketball tournament midway through it. And the Big 12 suspended spring
sports until March 29.
HOW BAD IS THE VIRUS?
usually causes mild to moderate symptoms, like a fever or cough. Most
people with mild symptoms recover in two weeks. More severe cases, found
in older adults and people with health issues, can have up to six
weeks’ recovery time or can lead to death.