Stay-at-home order set to expire days after Kansas’ projected virus peak

(Infographic by Kaylie McLaughlin | Collegian Media Group)

At midnight on Sunday, Gov. Laura Kelly’s statewide stay-at-home order is set to expire, and it’s unclear whether or not the order will be renewed.

In recent court documents related to a lawsuit against the governor regarding her order to limit religious gathering sizes, there is indication that the order will expire without further action. Expiration of the order would return the decision-making power on social distancing orders to local governments.

Local health officer Julie Gibbs said that if the statewide order expires, Riley County would reinstate local orders before beginning the process of a slow reopening. Each phase of the process would be made in collaboration with other regional counties, and occur in two-week increments.

As projected by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Kansas’ virus peak is forecasted to hit this week. By this model, the highest degree of health care demand in the state hit on April 20, and based off of current data, at no point will the state’s health care system be overwhelmed by the pandemic.

Kelly said President Donald Trump’s administration has laid out a “blueprint” for the reopening of the United States’ economy that has come to a halt during the pandemic. It includes a framework for expanded testing procedures — something the U.S. has lagged on — and distinguishes between local, federal and private sector responsibilities in the reopening process.

“We are in agreement that we do need to work together to prioritize testing,” Kelly said. “It is the only way we can safely reopen our economy.”

But Kansas isn’t out of the clear yet — the IHME predicts that Kansas can safely begin relaxing social distancing orders in late June, more than a month after the current orders are expected to expire.

Over the weekend, statewide positive cases of COVID-19 surpassed the 3,000 mark. On Monday, 75 counties recorded a total of 3,328 cases. The current hospitalization rate is at 19 percent.

“As we look towards reopening the state, the key to this will be testing and contract tracing,” Dr. Lee Norman, Kansas Secretary of Health and Environment, said.

Kansas also documented its first COVID-19-related inmate death at the Lansing Correctional Facility. Norman said the individual was over the age of 50 and had underlying health conditions. The death is part of one of the virus clusters the state health department is monitoring.

In all, Norman said there are 55 virus clusters under state watch.

My name is Kaylie McLaughlin and I'm the ex-managing editor and audience engagement manager of the Collegian. Previously, I've been the editor-in-chief and the news editor. In the past, I have also contributed to the Royal Purple Yearbook and KKSU-TV. Off-campus, you can find my bylines in the Wichita Eagle, the Shawnee Mission Post and KSNT News. I grew up just outside of Kansas City in Shawnee, Kansas. I’m a senior in digital journalism with a minor in French and a secondary focus in international and area studies. As a third-generation K-Stater, I bleed purple and my goal is to serve the Wildcat community with accurate coverage.