Gov. Laura Kelly extends stay at home order for Kansas to May 3
Gov. Laura Kelly has extended the stay at home order for Kansas to May 3 at midnight. The previous order was expected to expire on Sunday, April 19 but new data showed the growing number of coronavirus cases in the state is not expected to peak until between April 19 and April 30.
The governor made the announcement during her regularly scheduled daily briefing on Wednesday.
When asked when she thought Kansas would return to normal, the governor said she state is working hard to figure out how to re-open the state safely and effectively.
"It's clear that no state in the nation will truly be able to get back to normal until a vaccine for COVID-19 is developed, manufactured and is widely available. We won't be able to lift restrictions on mass gatherings overnight, but we know how much of a hardship these mitigation efforts have caused for thousands of Kansas families and businesses. We're working as quickly as we can to give our communities a plan for the future," said Gov. Kelly.
The action was taken in collaboration with Governor Mike Parson of Missouri, as well as Kansas City metro leaders. The governor believes a regional approach will reduce confusion and help keep communities safe on both sides of the state line.
Gov. Kelly also has been involved in discussion with Colorado Governor Jared Polis as a way to coordinate a plan for Western Kansas.
Between now and May 3, the governor's administration says she will consult with business leaders, health experts, economists and other industry and community leaders to determine the best path forward beyond that point, and re-open the Kansas economy safely and effectively.
The Kelly administration also plans to focus on expanding testing capacity over the next two weeks so that rapid testing, contact tracing and isolation efforts can be used to prevent community spread and avoid overwhelming local healthcare providers.
Kansas currently reports 68 new cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday afternoon, bringing the total to 1,494 cases and 76 deaths. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment says 342 people have been hospitalized due to the virus. There have been 13,174 negative tests conducted at KDHE and private labs.
During Wednesday's briefing Dr. Lee Norman, Secretary for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment said testing would be expanded to Sedgwick, Thomas and Finney counties beginning Monday. Expanded testing is already taking place in Wyandotte and Johnson counties - two Kansas hardest hit by coronavirus.
Dr. Norman also said the state received an overwhelming response from dental labs seeking to partner with the state produce 3D printed swabs needed to expand testing.
Kansas is now up to 1,426 cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) and 69 deaths.
The state says 327 people required hospitalization for the disease. These patients range in age from 0 to 95 years old with the median and average age of 63.
Of the tests conducted, 12,721 have come back negative. The Kansas Health Environmental Lab accounts for 23.4% of the positive tests while more than 75% of the positive tests are coming from private labs.
On Monday, KDHE Secretary Dr. Lee Norman said there remains a shortage of testing supplies - mainly swabs - in Kansas.
He said the state is looking to partner with dental labs who could produce the plastic swabs needed to increase the capacity of testing.