Chief: Police awaiting specifics of mask order

John Richmeier

While the governor has announced she will be issuing an executive order to require people in Kansas to wear masks, the order is not expected until later this week.

And the Leavenworth police chief said law enforcement officials will need to review the order before knowing how to proceed with its enforcement.

“We’re sort of in a holding pattern,” Chief Pat Kitchens said. “We’re aware of it. We know that it’s coming.”

Gov. Laura Kelly announced Monday she will be issuing the order, which will require most people in the state to wear masks when they are in public spaces and social distancing of at least six feet cannot be maintained. The order is intended to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

“Wearing a mask is not only safe – but it is necessary to avoid another shut down,” Kelly said in a news release.

The governor will release the order Thursday. It will go into effect Friday.

“We’ll wait patiently until it actually comes so we can see what we’re looking at,” Kitchens said.

The chief said it is his understanding there may be a provision in the order that allows county governments to opt out.

On Friday, the Mid-America Regional Council issued a news release that included a joint statement from several health department directors from around the Kansas City area including neighboring Platte County, Missouri, and Wyandotte and Johnson counties.

“Research shows that wearing a face mask is the most effective and least costly strategy to curb the spread of COVID-19,” the joint statement reads. “We strongly urge residents to wear a mask in all public settings. When combined with other precautions, this small step can help keep our communities safe and our businesses open.”

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in another cancellation of a local event. Officials with the Women’s Division of the Leavenworth-Lansing Area Chamber of Commerce announced Tuesday that a Lip Sync Battle event is at least being postponed. No new date has been announced.

The event, which was going to be a fundraiser for scholarships, had been scheduled for Aug. 8.

Sixteen new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Leavenworth County over the weekend.

The new cases were noted in an update released Monday afternoon by the Leavenworth County Health Department.

Eight of the new cases involve inmates at the Lansing Correctional Facility. The other eight new cases are what Health Department officials refer to as community cases.

A total of 1,162 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Leavenworth County since the start of the pandemic. That number includes 848 cases involving LCF inmates and 67 cases involving inmates and staff at the Grossman Center halfway house in Leavenworth.

The remaining 247 cases are considered community cases. Thirty-five of the community cases are considered to be active at this time. Eleven of the LCF inmate cases are active.

All of the people who tested positive at the Grossman Center have recovered.

As of Monday, one Leavenworth County resident was in the hospital because of COVID-19. A total of 34 Leavenworth County residents have been hospitalized because of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

Seven Leavenworth County residents, including four LCF inmates, have died as a result of COVID-19.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR