Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly says in future, stay-at-home order could vary regionally

Laura Kelly
Posted at 12:07 PM, Apr 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-16 13:07:55-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A day after extending Kansas' statewide stay-at-home order to May 3, Gov. Laura Kelly said the executive order could vary regionally in the future.

In an interview with 41 Action News anchor Taylor Hemness, Kelly described the unique challenges Kansas has presented while dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic with its combination of rural and metropolitan areas.

"We recognize that not every place is the same," Kelly said. "What we're dealing with just in Kansas, along that Kansas City border with Wyandotte County and Johnson County, is very different than what we're seeing in some of our more rural, less populated areas."

As of Thursday morning, just more than 1,500 COVID-19 cases had been reported in Kansas, nearly 700 of which came from Wyandotte and Johnson counties combined.

Kelly said when the state eventually lifts its statewide order, the authority will return to local jurisdictions to "put in whatever stay-home restrictions they want, for however long they think is necessary."

Kelly also said when her executive order is lifted, she expects the state to evaluate what precautions may be necessary regionally.

"When we lift the stay-at-home order, I expect that we will be putting into place some regional guidelines that will be adjusted, depending on what the situation is in various localities," Kelly said.

Earlier Thursday, Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas (with whom Kelly said she's been in discussion) extended the city's stay-at-home order to May 15.

Previously, the Core4, which includes Wyandotte and Johnson counties and Jackson County, Missouri, jointly decided to issue the order through April 24.

Kelly said her office will continue to work with city, county and state leaders in Kansas and Missouri on matters concerning the Kansas City area.

As far as lifting the executive stay-at-home order, Kelly said her office and public health officials continue to monitor the data.

"What you look for is reaching your peak, and then flattening that curve and then starting to come down," Kelly said. "You don't want to lift your stay-home orders until you're pretty sure that you've passed your peak, and that you can put mitigation factors in that will ensure that you don't keep re-peaking once you start lifting the restrictions on folks.”

Violation of an executive order is a Class A misdemeanor and could lead to a $2,500 fine or up to a year of jail time for violators.

Kelly said so far, law enforcement agencies across the state have been approaching enforcement in an "educational manner."

She said people, for the most part, have been abiding and there hasn't been a need for a punitive approach.