By Adam Strunk
Kansas now joins states across the country requiring their citizens to stay at home to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Gov. Laura Kelly announced the order at a press conference Saturday morning.
“Our projections continue to suggest that the number of confirmed cases in Kansas could reach 900 in the next week,” Kelly said, adding that the numbers continue to climb. “I’m announcing the difficult but unavoidable decision to add Kansas to the list of 22 other states that have issued a temporary stay-at-home order.”
She said half of Kansans are already living under stay-at-home orders, including Johnson, Sedgwick and Wyandotte Counties.
“We’re simply not ready for what we anticipate the peak to be of this pandemic,” she said of the state’s medical system.
She said vulnerable hospitals needed more time to prepare and the state needed more time to receive protective equipment, ventilators and other supplies from the federal government. She said those supplies have yet to arrive, and due to the shortage of federal tests, the virus’s spread in the state was being under reported.
In answering questions, she stated that currently states are bidding against each other and the federal government with companies to get some essential supplies for their citizens and health care systems.
She said the state is acting as aggressively as it can to get supplies for Kansans.
Kelly said the need for more time for the health care system necessitated the order to slow the viral spread.
“I know this is hard, and I can’t tell you how much I wish this weren’t necessary,” she said. “This is our window to ensure Kansas does not suffer the terrible fate of other hard-hit states like New York and Missouri.”
The order would legally require people to stay at home, except for essential tasks–getting food, medicine, treatment, exercising with social distancing, as well as going to work for an essential function.
The order shuts down businesses deemed non-essential. Grocery stores, pharmacies, liquor stores, delivery services, and companies producing and transporting goods designated as essential will stay open.
The order will begin 12.01 a.m. Monday, March 30. It will last until at least April 19. The order supersedes local stay-at-home orders, though when the state’s order would expire, local orders would still be in effect.
She said she’s encouraging Kansans to abide by state guidelines, do what needs to be done, and not force the state to enforce the rule. She said if there are those not doing it, eventually law enforcement would have to enforce the order.
The order is in response to the increasing number of counties in the state that now have COVID-19 infections. There were 202 confirmed cases in Kansas as of March 28.
Confirmed cases had been doubling in a little more than three days in the state at the time of the order. Harvey County had its first confirmed case Thursday. Confirmed infections in the U.S. passed 100,000 Saturday, with 1,500 dead, according to independent media counts of state and hospital reports.
Kelly said there was good news that, as part of the federal stimulus bill, Kansans’ will be getting checks of $1,200 per person and an additional $500 for those with children.
She said that Kansans out of work will also receive enhanced unemployment payments from the bill. The state has had unemployment claims increase 12-fold in the past week, jumping up to 24,000 claims.
She asked Kansans to please do their part to follow health guidelines and slow the spread of the virus.
“If you can do your part and join me in this effort, we will be able to rescind this measure faster,” she said. “We will save more lives, mitigate long-term damage to the economy and be able to transition back to some kind of normalcy.”
She thanked citizens for all that they were doing and said she was proud to be the state’s governor.
For more specific information of essential and non-essential functions here’s the text of Kelly’s executive order.
Sedgwick County’s executive order, which is in compliance with that previous executive order, listed these as essential businesses. We believe this will be a pretty close approximation to what state exemptions will look like.
- Health care operations, essential infrastructure, and essential governmental functions
- Grocery stores, liquor stores
- Food cultivation
- Human and animal food processing facility workers;
- Businesses that provide service for those in need
- Gas stations
- Hardware stores
- Plumbers, electricians, construction, cleaning and janitorial staff
- Mail and delivery services
- Educational institutions
- Laundry services
- Restaurants operating carry out services
- Transportation services
- Senior facilities
- Legal, accounting, real estate insurance services
- Childcare facilities
- Hotels, motels
- Manufacturing companies and distributors supplying products deemed essential i.e. medicine, technology, healthcare items, food products, agriculture, waste pickup, etc.
- Leaders and employees of religious institutions.