Kansas Chamber, hospitals make plea for voluntary mask use

Latest COVID-19 report from KDHE: 46 deaths, 7,526 cases, 95 hospitalizations since Friday

By: - November 23, 2020 1:06 pm

Transmission electron microscopic image of an isolate from the first U.S. case of COVID-19 The spherical viral particles, colorized blue, contain cross-section through the viral genome, seen as black dots. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

TOPEKA — Groups representing Kansas businesses and health care providers launched a campaign Monday to convince Kansans to adhere to public health guidelines and mandates by appealing to their sense of personal responsibility.

The marketing effort complements the drumbeat of pleadings by Gov. Laura Kelly and her administration on the importance of wearing a face covering, keeping a safe distance, washing hands often and avoiding large gatherings to defeat the spread of COVID-19.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment on Monday said 46 more deaths had been reported since Friday, bringing the pandemic’s total to 1,456. The agency also reported 7,526 new cases and 95 more hospitalizations over the three-day period.

Last week, Kelly ordered a new statewide mask mandate to take effect on Wednesday. County commissions under a law passed by the Legislature in June have the option of opting out or crafting their own restrictions instead, and several counties have chosen to opt out.

The goal of the Stop the Spread campaign, launched by the Kansas Hospital Association, Kansas Chamber, Kansas Farm Bureau and the Kansas Medical Society, is to “ignite a sense of unity, community and responsibility” through grassroots outreach and advertising.

“Companies small and large across the state have requirements and protocols in place regarding facemasks and other measures that allow for social distancing and additional cleaning,” said Alan Cobb, president and CEO of the Kansas Chamber. “However, we need all Kansans taking these voluntary actions. It will make a tremendous difference and reduce the pressure on our health care system. We encourage all Kansans to do their part to stop the spread of this virus.”

KDHE reported current outbreaks of infection at Buffalo Wild Wings in Salina, daycare providers in Lenexa and Colby, Hostess bakery in Emporia, Pinnacle Gymnastics in Shawnee, 14 public schools, nine colleges/universities, 6 group living and 57 long-term care facilities, among other locations.

A report issued last week by the White House Coronavirus Taskforce highlighted the rapid spread in Kansas and the need for more messaging about the need to wear a mask and avoid gatherings. Across the state, and especially in rural areas, more Kansans are dying and getting sick than ever before, and hospitals are running out of space and staff.

“Clearly, COVID-19 is now infecting more Kansans than ever,” said Rachelle Colombo, executive director of the Kansas Medical Society. “Physicians and other frontline health care workers across the state are working tirelessly to help those who contract the virus get well again — all while they continue to care for patients with other needs.”

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Sherman Smith
Sherman Smith

Sherman Smith is the editor in chief of Kansas Reflector. He writes about things that powerful people don't want you to know. A two-time Kansas Press Association journalist of the year, his award-winning reporting includes stories about education, technology, foster care, voting, COVID-19, sex abuse, and access to reproductive health care. Before founding Kansas Reflector in 2020, he spent 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal. He graduated from Emporia State University in 2004, back when the school still valued English and journalism. He was raised in the country at the end of a dead end road in Lyon County.