Lyon County will remain in “Modified Phase 2” of Gov. Laura Kelly’s Ad Astra: A Plan to Reopen Kansas through June 8.
The decision was announced along with the signing of a new disaster declaration by Lyon County Commission Chairman Rollie Martin Wednesday morning. The declaration comes a day after the governor gave the power back to local governments to decide on their own reopening strategies.
The declaration states that “the Chairman of the Board of Lyon County Commissioners of Kansas finds that a disaster has occurred, or the threat thereof is imminent within Lyon County, Kansas as a result of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) and the confirmed outbreak and person-to-person spread of COVID-19 in the United States and Kansas.”
The conditions remain where the virus presents a “significant impact” and can “endanger the public health, safety and welfare of persons and property within the borders” of the county.
Martin said the commission felt it was important to keep things the same at this point due to the rate at which the governor had been changing the reopening strategies at the state level.
“This gives us two weeks to assess the situation and develop more data for Lyon County guidance from Lyon County Public Health,” he said. “As a county, I think we have learned how to manage COVID-19. It has not overloaded our hospital. People are really adjusting to using social distancing and masks and everything else that’s really helping to mitigate the spread of the virus.”
Lyon County Health Officer Renee Hively said county commissioners felt that the governor had a “good framework” to follow moving forward.
“The chairman also felt that this gave the commission the opportunity to get more data and metrics on the public health side,” Hively said, noting that she expected to see more local spikes in infection rates as the state reopens.
“I expect we will see some more small clusters — in fact we identified another cluster yesterday,” Hively said. “We had four people test positive at a local manufacturing plant.”
Lyon County Emergency Manager Jarrod Fell said the disaster declaration was needed because the community continues to see active cases in the area.
“Our case numbers have reduced over time — at one point we had well over 160 active cases — however, they are not reducing to the point where we are not concerned about the demand on public health resources right now,” Fell said. “I think the hospital capacity is doing fine — at this point. I think the concern is that we’d like to see a couple more weeks of data to see how many more people are going to get sick from more people being out in the community, and see how that is going to affect our community response.”
In the modified version of phase 2, the current limitations remain in place:
Mass gatherings of more than 15 individuals will be prohibited;
All businesses and activities slated to open during Phase 2 will be allowed, with the exception of bars, night clubs and swimming pools. These will be moved to Phase 3;
Businesses and activities that will be allowed to open in Phase 2 include:
Recreational organized sports facilities, tournaments and practices will be allowed to begin on Friday, May 22, and must adhere to social distancing requirements and follow Parks and Recs guidelines, which can be found on covid.ks.gov;
Community Centers will be allowed to open, except for indoor and outdoor swimming pools;
Indoor leisure spaces such as arcades, trampoline parks, theaters, museums and bowling allies will be allowed to open on May 22;
State-owned-and-operated casinos will be allowed to open once their re-opening plan has been approved by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment;
In-person group exercise classes will be allowed to begin with groups of no more than 15 at a time. Locker rooms remain closed except for restroom facilities;
Under Phase 2, the following, unless they are repurposed for use in an essential function under the Kansas Essential Function Framework, shall remain closed to the public:
Bars and night clubs, excluding curbside and carryout services;
Outdoor and indoor large entertainment venues with capacity of 2,000 or more;
Fairs, festivals, carnivals, parades;
Swimming pools (other than backyard pools);
Summer camps (with the exception of licensed childcare facilities).
Fell said it’s important for the community to continue observing strategies for wearing facial coverings, social distancing and hand hygiene at this time.
“Something to remember, especially if you’re somebody who’s more susceptible, the 6-feet for 10 minutes is fine for incidental close-contact,” he said. “When you start spending more time with somebody, the distance matters less. When we sit in a conference room for a long period of time, or we’re sitting together for a longer period of time, the risk of exposure is greater. I think that’s important to understand. Just because you’re 6-feet apart, as you start increasing your time together, that distance means less and less.”
“The virus has not gone away,” Hively added. “It is still here. We need to make choices to protect ourselves and protect our families as much as possible.”
Martin said, at this point, he could not say when the county would move into the next phase of reopening but hoped the data over the next few weeks would be favorable for that.