Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly 'considering all avenues' to implement statewide mask mandate

laura kelly oct 21 press conference
Posted at 4:44 PM, Oct 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-21 17:44:58-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly is reviewing her options for implementing a statewide mask mandate, she announced Wednesday.

“We’re considering all the avenues my administration can take to require masks in public places statewide,” the governor said at her weekly COVID-19 press briefing.

Noting a concerning, consistent increase in COVID-19 cases, and more specifically an outbreak at a nursing home in Norton County in which 10 residents have died, Kelly emphasized evidence that COVID-19 affects all Kansans, even those in rural communities.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re in Norton County, or in Johnson County, we can stop this virus if we wear masks, follow good hygiene practices, socially distance and avoid mass gatherings,” Kelly said.

The governor said she knows some state legislators and Kansas residents won’t be happy that she is once again trying to enact a statewide mandate, but she said her actions are about the bigger picture.

“Wearing a mask should not be political. It’s about public health and keeping our economy and our schools open,” Kelly said. “We cannot sit by as the cases continue to rise in our rural communities, threatening lives and businesses.”

Kelly plans to hold a conversation with legislature leadership on creating a bipartisan mask requirement.

The governor noted that with her first attempt at a statewide mask mandate on July 3, 90 Kansas counties opted out. Since then, Kelly said, COVID-19 cases went from 14,000 to 75,000, and COVID-19-related deaths from 200 to 900.

RELATED | Kansas City COVID-19 Case Tracker