Kelly stresses mask-wearing as Kansas records nearly 3,500 new COVID-19 cases in two-week stretch

photo by: Conner Mitchell/Journal-World

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly speaks at a COVID-19 news briefing on Monday, July 6, 2020, at the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka.

The state of Kansas should continue to remain in Phase 3 of the recommended reopening process as new cases of COVID-19 continue to spike, Gov. Laura Kelly said Monday.

In the past two weeks, Kansas has seen nearly 3,500 new cases of the potentially deadly respiratory virus — by far the biggest increase the state has seen during the pandemic, Kelly said. Since Friday alone, the state confirmed over 980 COVID-19 cases, the statewide cumulative case total sits at nearly 17,000, and the virus has killed 280 Kansans.

Kansas is at a “make-or-break” point in stemming the spread of the virus, Kelly said. A statewide mandatory mask order went into effect Friday, but many counties have already opted out of the order — as the state order allowed them to do.

Still, Kelly on Monday sought to highlight the dangers of “ignoring the experts” and pleaded with Kansans to follow public safety guidelines. She specifically pointed out Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who resisted initial calls for a statewide mask mandate and now is seeing new case records on a near-daily basis.

“This is not about state and local control, and it’s not a question of personal freedom,” she said. “This is a matter of social responsibility while we’re dealing with the worst outbreak of a communicable virus in a century. Every Kansan has an opportunity to step up to keep their loved ones healthy and keep Kansas open for business.”

Regardless of the political consequences, Kelly said she would continue to be guided by the data while making decisions on leading the state through an unprecedented pandemic.

“I know that there are some who may be upset, whether it’s for the mask order or other actions I’ve taken,” she said. “But I will continue to do everything in my power to save lives and to keep our economy open, and I strongly encourage other elected leaders in Kansas to do the same.”

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is currently monitoring 118 active COVID-19 outbreaks — of 235 total outbreaks — which account for 6,610 cases and 210 deaths in the state.

Those outbreaks can be traced to the following locations:

• 98 from private industry, 57 of which are inactive, accounting for 826 cases and six deaths;

• 57 from long-term care facilities, 28 of which are inactive, accounting for 986 cases and 164 deaths;

• 34 from various gatherings, 17 of which are inactive, accounting for 362 cases and 14 deaths;

• 12 from meatpacking plants, one of which is inactive, accounting for 3,197 cases and 16 deaths;

• 11 from health care facilities, five of which are inactive, accounting for 76 cases;

• 10 from group living arrangements, five of which are inactive, accounting for 87 cases and three deaths;

• Five from sports activities, accounting for 33 cases;

• Four from correctional facilities, three of which are inactive, accounting for 1,026 cases and seven deaths;

• Four from day care or school facilities, one of which is inactive, accounting for 17 cases.

The 982 cases KDHE confirmed since Friday were out of 10,658 total test results, for a positive rate of 9.2%. Overall, Kansas has confirmed 16,901 cases of the virus out of a total 202,219 tests, for a positive test rate of 8.4%.

States are considered to be in more dangerous situations when the positive test rate surpasses 10%, experts have said.


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