KS Governor: No statewide stay-at-home mandate, unemployment solutions coming

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Gov. Laura Kelly says she will keep stay-at-home orders at the local level for now.

In an interview with 13 NEWS in her office Wednesday morning, Kelly said she does not see the need for a statewide mandate at this point in time. She said she is pleased with how local governments are making the decisions based on their specific situations as coronavirus infections spread.

Kelly said stay-at-home orders are disruptive, and she did not want take broader action until there was overwhelming evidence it was necessary, but added there is a need to keep people safe.

More than half the state's population has been told to stay home, and limit trips only for essential purposes, like food or health care. Johnson, Wyandotte, and Douglas counties were among the first orders to take effect Tuesday; Sedgwick County joined Wednesday; and Shawnee County will follow Thursday, with more counties announcing the action.

Kelly also acknowledged problems with the state's phone line and web site for filing unemployment claims. She said the system is simply "overwhelmed," and asked for patience as they work to increase capacity.

People who are having trouble getting through right now will receive their full benefits, Kelly said. As an option, paper forms have been placed outside local DCF offices for people to pick up. The state already has taken the step of waiving the usual one-week wait before becoming eligible.

In addition, Kelly said the state was in the process of requesting its share of medical equipment from the federal reserve. She says the state must be prepared for any increase in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.

Kelly said she is working with health experts in response to a situation that is developing by the moment.

"We've never seen anything like this," she said.