Sedgwick County hopeful change in public health order leads to better compliance

Published: Sep. 15, 2020 at 6:43 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - A small change in Sedgwick County’s public health order for masks and social distancing has county leaders hoping for better compliance.

Sedgwick County Health Officer Dr. Garold Minns removed language that the order is voluntary. This change was made due to concerns about some bars and nightclubs in Wichita failing to comply with basic guidelines in the order.

The hope is that by removing references to the order being voluntary, it will make the order’s intent clearer. Sedgwick County Commissioner Pete Meitzner said there some ambiguity and confusion with the order, “especially in the bar and restaurant business.”

With area students back in school and most businesses able to reopen, the hope is that there won’t be steps back in terms of COVID-19 numbers in Sedgwick County. In the county, the 14-day rolling average of percent positive tests has dropped below 6 percent for the first time since late June.

It’s a direction the county wants to keep going, and that’s the purpose of Dr. Minns extending the public health order. Besides the mask mandate, the order calls for bars, nightclubs and other businesses that sell alcohol to close at 11 p.m. except for carryout and curbside services, and capping capacity of those businesses at 50 percent.

The order alls out bars and nightclubs, saying by their nature, there is more social interaction and less mask-wearing and social-distancing at these businesses. Meitzner said the county worked with about a dozen bars and restaurants to get them safely reopened. With the order in place, in effect until Oct. 21, Dr. Minns is urging a cautious approach.

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