Kansas Governor Announces Statewide Mask Order

TOPEKA – Governor Laura Kelly says she is establishing a statewide facial covering protocol.

Governor Laura Kelly announced in her news conference today that her administration is implementing several new steps to combat the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the state. She said the new plan includes a public health campaign, community engagement conversations and a new executive order that establishes a statewide face-covering protocol in order to keep Kansans healthy, schools and businesses open and protect the state’s economy.

Kelly said the new order is similar to, but an updated version of the one she signed in July.

In the new executive order, county commissions will have one week to implement their own ordinance. If they haven’t created their own, they will automatically be opted into Governor Kelly’s order.

Counties that already have an ordinance are exempt, according to the new executive order.

This new order goes into effect 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, November 25.

“As COVID-19 continues to spread through Kansas communities and hospitalizations increase at concerning rates, it is clear we must take action to protect our communities and our economy,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “Today’s actions are a bipartisan package of recommendations from legislators, health professionals, and business leaders to increase participation in commonsense COVID-19 prevention practices.”

According to Gov. Kelly, Executive Order #20-68 will take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 25, and will stay in place until rescinded or until the current State of Disaster Emergency expires, whichever comes first.

“My administration recognizes that each Kansas county is faced with unique challenges – and a one-size-fits-all approach can be difficult for some communities to navigate,” Governor Kelly said. “The order allows local officials one week to craft and implement their own version of a face covering ordinance that works for them and their communities.”

Gov. Kelly said under the order, Kansans will be required to wear face coverings when in public spaces or in situations where social distancing cannot be maintained. She said guidance regarding specific locations or situations where face coverings should be worn is outlined in the order.

According to Gov. Kelly, Kansans under the age of five, those with medical conditions and others outlined in the order are exempt from the new protocol.

Additionally, Gov. Kelly said her administration is partnering with The Leadership Center to lead virtual nonpartisan meetings throughout the state beginning the week of November 17 and ending in late December. She said the project will increase the number of local leaders, pastors, coaches, neighborhood leaders, business owners, community officials and more to use their influence to combat the virus.

Gov. Kelly also said that she has approved CARES Act funding to help a coalition of stakeholders including the Kansas Hospital Association, Kansas Chamber of Commerce, Kansas Farm Bureau and more to create a statewide public health campaign to start the week of November 23. She said the campaign will encourage Kansans to follow the best practices, encourage voluntary testing, avoid mass gatherings and use face coverings.

As of Wednesday, the state has seen a total of 117,676 positive cases. That number includes 1,221 deaths and approximately 77,446 recoveries.