4Star Politics: Gov. Kelly talks new statewide mask protocol, COVID-19 in Kansas

4Star Politics

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Gov. Laura Kelly is taking new steps to slow the spread of coronavirus in Kansas, and the most notable is the announcement of a statewide mask protocol.

Kelly joins FOX4’s John Holt and The Kansas City Star’s Dave Helling this week to break down the new order and the rationale behind it.

The new executive order gives Kansas counties a choice: create their own face mask order in the next week or they’ll be automatically opted in to Kelly’s new mandate. It will take effect Nov. 25.

The Democratic governor already issued a statewide mask mandate in July, but state law allowed the 105 counties in Kansas to opt out — and most did. Now, under Kelly’s new order, she’s giving counties that still don’t have a policy on face masks another chance.

Kelly told Holt and Helling on Wednesday that there are at least 36 states across the U.S., some with Republican governors and some with Democratic governors, that have some kind of face mask order.

She said the state’s mask order is not unprecedented, but how they’re approaching it — by giving counties time to make their own adjustments — is unique, in her opinion.

The new order does not apply to counties that are already enforcing Kelly’s initial mask mandate, such as Johnson and Wyandotte counties, or to other counties that have since enacted their own mask order for public spaces.

Kelly said she’s concerned about the state’s hospitals.

Hospital emergency rooms in at least two communities were holding COVID-19 patients while waiting for space or staff to treat them elsewhere. The CEO of a northeast Kansas health system called the local spread of the virus “uncontrolled.”

Hundreds of doctors, nurses and other workers are quarantined, meaning that hospitals are struggling to staff their patient beds and some surgical procedures have been delayed.

Kelly said not only does it affect COVID-19 patients and hospital staff, but it also affects people seeking care for trauma, surgery and more.

Hear more from Kelly on the new mask mandate, as well as the state’s public information campaign and leadership campaigns they’re planning, in the video player above.

FOX4 and The Kansas City Star are partnering to bring you 4Star Politics, a special digital venture with new episodes released Wednesdays at 5 p.m.

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