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Sedgwick County Commission rescinds local health order

Published: Mar. 22, 2021 at 6:18 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The Sedgwick County Commission voted 3-2 Wednesday to rescind the local health order. The vote comes as Senate Bill 40 is set to end all local health orders next week.

Wednesday’s vote followed a lengthy discussion by commissioners on whether to extend the order or wait for guidance from Sedgwick County’s Local Health Officer Dr. Gerald Minns and other health officials.

Commissioners again voted, 3-2, to adopt a resolution that strongly recommends for individuals to continue healthy behaviors – such as getting vaccinated when eligible, wearing a mask, and social distancing – effective immediately and for the next 90 days.

Businesses and organizations are strongly recommended to require customers, employees, and others to wear face masks while in indoor public spaces and to have them also maintain six feet of space between others.

Communication from the Sedgwick County Commission and leadership will be sent to the state requesting to move into Phase 5 of the vaccine schedule. Commissioners will take a vote in regards to moving into Phase 5 on Friday, March 26.

SB 40 allows people who feel aggrieved by local health orders to challenge the orders in court. The county says none of the local health orders signed by Dr. Garold Minns have successfully been challenged in court.

Monday, March 22, 2021

As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to drop across Kansas, Sedgwick County is set to reevaluate its health order. Currently, the order requires COVID-19 precautions like masks and social distancing, but some believe the county could drop the mask mandate as early as this week.

After a year of masks and social distancing, Sedgwick County is evaluating if it’s safe for the mask mandate to drop. The county commission will discuss its current health order on Wednesday, and will consider factors like hospitalization numbers and vaccination rates. Currently, Sedgwick County has its lowest number of COVID-19 hospitalizations since June, and only about 2 percent of COVID-19 tests are coming back positive.

Sedgwick County Commissioner Jim Howell said he didn’t want to speak for other commissioners, but believes the county leaders could be moving toward suggesting masks in public instead of mandating them.

If the county drops restrictions, it will move forward cautiously.

“I can assure you that the county commissioners in our health office, we’re going to be watching that very closely,” Howell said.

He said if there is another spike in cases from variants that can spread more easily or from “bad behavior,” with too many people not taking recommended precautions, Howell said county leaders will have to come together and “there are still some things we could do.”

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