Douglas County orders bars to close as COVID-19 numbers rise

Published: Jul. 1, 2020 at 4:50 PM CDT
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LAWRENCE, Kan. (KWCH) - Bars and nightclubs in Douglas County will be closed for the July 4th weekend.

The closure begins Friday and will last for two weeks, excluding operating curbside and carryout services of beverages to be consumed at home and not on the bar’s premises, which was put into effect earlier this year under an executive order.

Douglas County’s Local Health Officer Dr. Thomas Marcellino cited a recent spike in COVID-19 cases as the reasoning behind the decision.

“We have seen a rise of cases among younger adults, and these cases are now being linked to higher-risk older adults in our community. We have to slow down the spread of the coronavirus in Douglas County to prevent a surge of cases,” said Dr. Marcellino. “It is our hope that taking these measures now will allow us to slow the spread and put us into a stronger position as we approach the school season.”

Through 3 p.m., July 1, Douglas County has 190 COVID-19 cases (92 individuals have recovered) since its first lab-confirmed case on March 17, but 66 of the new cases have come since June 26.

As of Wednesday morning, LMH Health had one inpatient positive for COVID-19, but members of the county’s COVID-19 Recovery Coordination Team are increasingly cautious about a potential surge of patients given the recent increase in cases.

Marcellino said the county would issue an official health order on Thursday to include the local bar closing decision and to align with a forthcoming announcement by Gov. Laura Kelly on her recommendation for which reopening phase counties should align with given the recent increase in cases across the state.

Douglas County issued a local health order that took effect Wednesday that requires people to wear masks in all indoor public spaces where six feet of separation is not possible, and for consistency, the county plans to align with the Governor’s statewide mask executive order expected to be published Thursday.

“Across the country and here locally, COVID-19 cases are climbing. It is clear that bars are a highrisk environment for the spread of COVID-19,” Marcellino said. “Locally, we have seen a surge of cases linked to bars. Infectious disease and public health experts around the country are recommending the closure of bars.”

Anyone with questions about compliance of a public health order can email, where LDCPH staff will follow up on specific complaints.

“It is clear mask usage slows the spread of the virus. Wear a mask at all times if six feet of distance cannot be assured,” Marcellino said. “We appreciate the public’s cooperation. We are all in this together.”

Copyright 2020 KWCH. All rights reserved.

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