By Travis Mounts/Times-Sentinel Newspapers
Sedgwick County is putting a stay-at-home order in effect.
The announcement came in an 11 a.m. briefing delivered online. The message came from Sedgwick County Commission Chair Pete Meitzner.
The stay-at-home directive became official under the order of Dr. Garold Minns, Sedgwick County’s Chief Health Officer. On Monday, the county commission voted to recommend Minns put in place a stay-at-home order similar to what is now in effect in the Kansas City area, which has been the epicenter for the COVID-19 outbreak in Kansas. Sedgwick County’s order is modeled on the one adopted by Johnson County, which includes Overland Park and Olathe.
Minns will speak at a 1 p.m. press conference Tuesday, as will other officials. That press conference will be streamed live on the county’s YouTube and Facebook pages. Other media will be there to cover it. Residents are strongly advised to not attend the news conference in person, as strict limits on public gathering will be enforced.
County manager Tom Stolz said Sedgwick County now has four confirmed cases of COVID-19. The last two are a man under the age of 60 and a woman under the age of 60. Both are in isolation at home, neither required hospitalization, and neither had traveled to other areas. Stolz stressed the need for good hygiene, including frequent hand washing and social distancing. He also stressed the seriousness of the situation.
Stolz said the county is “data poor” at the moment, meaning there are likely additional cases that remain undiagnosed, in part due to a nationwide shortage of testing kits. However, he said that the county is “data rich” based on what has happened in other American cities and overseas.
At Monday’s special county commission meeting, two different doctors urged the county to adopt the stay-at-home order. The said that based on what happened in other communities, it is highly likely that Sedgwick County will see an explosion of cases over the next few weeks. They said evidence showed that reacting too slowly will results in many more cases.
On Monday, Gov. Laura Kelly issued new executive orders, including one that limits public gathers to 10 people anywhere in Kansas. The order went into effect Tuesday, March 24.
Sedgwick County’s stay-at-home order takes effect Wednesday, March 25, and will run for at least 30 days.
Residents will still be able to do a number of everyday activities. That list includes going to the grocery store or other retail stores for food, household cleaning supplies, etc.; medical visits for yourself or family members; veterinarian visits or purchasing pet supplies; caring for a family member or pet in another household; and traveling for work with essential businesses. In addition, you can still engage in outdoor activities as long as social distancing is maintained. That means you are free to go for a jog, take your kids or pets for a walk, do yard work, or play in the yard. Utilizing playground equipment is strongly discourage because of the risk of disease transmission.
Non-essential businesses will need to close or make work-from home arrangements. There are a number of businesses that are considered essential and can remain open.
Here is a link to the county’s order, which includes the list of essential businesses: Sedgwick County stay-at-home order
Furthermore, the county has provided specific contact information to help citizens and business with their questions and concerns.
• If you believe you or a loved one may need to be tested for COVID-19, call the United Way helpline at 2-1-1.
• If you have questions about the stay-at-home order, including whether your business is considered an essential business, call Sedgwick County at 316-660-9000.
• Please reserve calling 9-1-1 for actual emergencies; they do not have the staff to field questions about essential businesses, etc.
• You also can email questions and concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.