After receiving a recommendation from the Sedgwick County Commission, Local Health Officer Dr. Garold Minns approved a stay-at-home order Tuesday morning — to go into effect at 12 a.m. March 25 and be in place for 30 days (until April 23).
The action was confirmed at a county briefing on Tuesday where County Manager Tom Stolz stated two additional positive COVID-19 cases have been reported in Sedgwick County (bringing the total to four, with three additional positive tests in nearby Butler County and two confirmed in Reno County). Total positive tests in Kansas are up to 82.
“It’s serious and we need to stay focused on distancing and other good hygiene actions,” Stolz said.
During a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Minns — who said previously that an order was not yet needed — noted the recommendation of the commission as well as the support of the local medical community (and an additional two cases) were factors in him signing the stay-at-home order into effect.
“Social distancing measures like stay-at-home orders are effective when implemented early enough.” Minns said. “This measure will ensure that our medical professionals can help residents that develop symptoms.”
Essential businesses will remain open and essential services will remain available while the stay-at-home order is in effect. That covers a wide range of industries and services, Stolz noted. The stay-at-home order, essentially, is meant to be preventative — as the surge regarding coronavirus cases is expected in one to four weeks.
“This is really unprecedented. We’re at the point right now where there are no easy decisions, only right decisions. We have one shot at doing this right,” said Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple. “We have a storm coming, and we need to bunker down right now.”
“You can still go to the store, you can still go get gas, but be smart,” Stolz said. “Be careful and be smart as we move through the next one to four weeks.”
Dedicated phone lines and emails have been established so as not to inundate 911 with questions regarding the order or general COVID-19 information, allowing first responders to continue doing their job.
Emergency Communications Director Elora Forshee noted calls have actually been down the past two weeks, but policies are being put in place to best serve the community in a time of crisis.
Law enforcement are also making some changes in light of the situation, with Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter noting that his department will be moving to an emergency accident reporting plan — meaning non-injury accidents where the vehicle is still operational can now be reported online. Similarly, reports that do not need to be taken in person will now be taken over the phone in an effort to help curb the spread of coronavirus.
“We will get through this,” said Sedgwick County Commission Chairman Pete Meitzner. “It’s a tough situation, but if we’re going to make any headway we have to flatten the infection curve.”
Anyone with questions can call 316-660-9000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on the stay-at-home order.