Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly issues statewide stay-at-home order

Gov. Laura Kelly
Posted at 11:16 AM, Mar 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-28 13:01:39-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly issued a statewide stay-at-home order in response to the coronavirus outbreak in the state.

The order takes effect at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, March 30, and will stay in effect through April 19, the governor said at a news conference Saturday morning.

Under the stay-at-home order, Kelly said people must remain at home unless they are going to work to perform an essential function; obtaining food, medicine or other household necessities; seeking medical care; caring for children, pets, family members or another vulnerable person; or exercising outside while abiding by the 10-person limit on gatherings and practicing social distancing.

"You can leave your house, you can still go outside, you are not under house arrest," Kelly said.

The statewide order supersedes similar orders that local governments — including Johnson, Leavenworth and Wyandotte counties — have enacted, though Kelly said that if the state chooses not to extend the statewide order past April 19, any local orders that go past that date will continue to be enforced.

More than half of Kansas' population is already under a local stay-at-home order. Kelly said the statewide order will help establish consistency and slow the spread of the virus.

"The reality is that a patchwork approach is a recipe for confusion in our statewide fight to slow the spread of coronavirus," Kelly said. "Statewide uniformity will ensure we’re all playing by the same rules, and it will help prevent an influx of new cases."

Kelly also said that the statewide order will remain in place even if federal guidelines suggest a different approach. President Donald Trump has said that he hopes to see parts of the country reopened again by Easter, which is April 12.

"From the very beginning, the states have really had to take the lead on this," Kelly said. "We are making this move now because of what we are seeing here in Kansas, and any guidelines from the federal government that don’t model this, we will, quite honestly, ignore."

The governor said the order does not mean Kansas is under "martial law" and urged Kansans to monitor themselves and stay at home. If residents choose to ignore the order, Kelly said that local law enforcement can act to enforce it.

In Kansas, 217 patients have tested positive for COVID-19. On Friday, Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Dr. Lee Norman said he expects the peak of the outbreak to occur in mid- to late April with up to 1,000 patients in the state.