Kansas recommends counties stay in Phase 3, keeping restrictions on gatherings

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SHAWNEE, Kan. — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly halted plans to phase out restrictions on mass gatherings Monday.

The “Phase Out” portion of “Ad Astra: A Plan to Reopen Kansas” was set to go into effect Monday.

“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.

“After consulting with Secretary Norman’s team at KDHE, I have decided that our state is not ready to move into the final phase of the ‘Ad Astra’ plan until July 6, 2020, at the earliest.”

She made the move after 406 people tested positive since Friday, bringing the state total to more than 12,000. Five people died over the weekend. She said many of those are tied to 187 clusters of cases.

“Our only defense is social distancing, avoiding mass gatherings,” Kelly said.

It means the recommendation is gatherings are still limited to 45 people in Kansas. Johnson County recommends it, too, but they’ve previously said it’s unenforceable.

At Mid America West Sports Complex on Monday, hundreds of players and parents descend on the fields for week 3 of baseball in Johnson County. On the day Kansas moved into Phase 3 of its reopening plan, 3 and 2 League began play. 

Grandmother Cheryl Swopes said she liked the league’s protocols of keeping everyone safe, in theory.

The league originally announced kids would sit with their parents between at bats, bleachers would be closed and signs were posted encouraging social distancing.

“But when I came out here, it’s completely different. Nobody was wearing masks. The kids was all bundled together. There’s no social distancing — I was really shocked,” Swopes said.

Over the weekend, the league announced the bleachers were open and neither they nor the dugouts would be disinfected between games from now on.

“I don’t worry too much about the disinfecting of the bleachers. Life’s gotta to go on. It gives you a sense of normalcy for a few hours,” parent Matt Shorten said.

As for Wyandotte County, leaders already announced they’re extending the county’s Phase 3 until July 6 before the governor’s recommendations Monday.

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