Gov. Kelly urges Kansas communities to slow reopening plans

June 23, 2020 GMT
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly answers questions about the state's response to the coronavirus pandemic as Dr. Lee Norman, her health secretary, watches behind her, Monday, June 8, 2020, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. Kelly the state's counties "shouldn't feel pressure" to lift restrictions further if they're not seeing new cases and new hospitalizations decline. (AP Photo/John Hanna)
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly answers questions about the state's response to the coronavirus pandemic as Dr. Lee Norman, her health secretary, watches behind her, Monday, June 8, 2020, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. Kelly the state's counties "shouldn't feel pressure" to lift restrictions further if they're not seeing new cases and new hospitalizations decline. (AP Photo/John Hanna)

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly is recommending that communities wait a little bit longer before moving to the next phase of reopening as coronavirus cases increase.

The “Phase Out” stage of Kelly’s Ad Astra reopening plan was set to begin Monday, but Kelly and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment are now advising communities to stay in Phase 3 for at least two more weeks.

The main difference is that Phase 3 limits mass gatherings to no more than 45 people. The “Phase Out” stage merely urges social distancing but doesn’t limit the size of crowds. The ultimate decision, though, rests with local officials.

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“Though many Kansans and communities have been social distancing, wearing masks, and working hard over the past few weeks to mitigate the spread of the virus, we have unfortunately seen an increase in disease spread,” Kelly said in a news release.

New data released Monday shows Kansas has at least 12,465 cases, up 406 from Friday. The state health department also said the number of COVID-19 deaths rose by five to 259. The number of cases reported by the Kansas health department rose 17% or by more than 1,800 over the previous two weeks.

The state saw its daily average for new coronavirus cases increase by about 50% over the previous two weeks, from a daily average of 96 new cases to about 145, according to Johns Hopkins University. The state’s rate of positive test results also climbed from 3.6% to 5.5%.

Nursing home have been particularly hard hit, with 58 cases and 11 deaths reported at Garden Terrace at Overland Park, The Kansas City Star reports.

Meanwhile, fewer than three weeks after the return of Kansas high school athletics, at least one positive COVID-19 case has been found, The Wichita Eagle reports. A student-athlete has contracted the virus at Lost Springs’ Centre High School despite taking necessary health and safety measures, USD 397 Superintendent Susan Beeson confirmed to the Eagle on Monday. Those at school were taking temperature tests, using social distancing, disinfecting equipment, frequently washing their hands and using sanitizer, she said.

The virus also continues to create economic havoc. Around 250 employees at Textron Aviation facilities across the country and 70 workers in Wichita will be laid off as the aircraft manufacturer continues to adapt to the economic fallout related to the coronavirus, The Wichita Eagle reports.

Other employees will experience additional periodic furloughs throughout the year, according to a spokesperson for Textron Aviation.