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Sedgwick County Health Officer: Public-health order, mask mandate likely to continue

Published: Oct. 15, 2020 at 4:46 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - With more patients being treated for COVID-19 in local hospitals, Sedgwick County Health Officer Dr. Garold Minns said this is not the time to stop taking precautions. With that, the mask mandate and public health order currently in place in Sedgwick County likely will extend beyond next week’s expiration date.

Thursday, Dr. Minns said Sedgwick County’s hospitalization numbers are at an all-time high.

“Now not all those patients are from Sedgwick County, but a number of them are. So, bottom line is, the frequency of the disease is gradually creeping up,” he said.

Dr. Minns said unless numbers improve, he doesn’t see how the county can back off of what it’s doing.

“So I think that there’s a good chance the rest of this year and maybe into next year,” he said of implementing the public-health order and mask mandate.

Dr. Minns said he’s not sure of the exact cause for the rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, but the reopening of schools may be a factor.

“When we bring all those kids together, we want to learn, but also there’s more contact between them,” he said. “We learn more, even though the kids don’t get the disease very often, they can certainly transmit (it) back to their parents and cousins, older cousins and grandparents.”

To bring local numbers back down, Dr. Minns said he encourages everybody to recognize this as a health issue and not a political issue.

“So, anything people can do to encourage the people that are into coming on board could be helpful,” he said.

Dr. Minns also said he is considering relaxing the curfew for Sedgwick County bars and nightclubs if they can continue to keep their customers safe.

Thursday, Eyewitness News also spoke with Sedgwick County Commissioner Jim Howell who was recently diagnosed with COVID-19. Specifically, we asked him if having the virus changes his views on the county’s mask mandate.

“A mandate doesn’t necessarily create compliance and so I appreciate the fact that (Dr. Minns is) doing the very best he can to keep our people safe, but I think education and advocacy go a long way and at the end of the day, whether people choose to comply or not is kind of a personal choice.”

Howell said he his feeling near 100 percent and that his symptoms were mild. With that, he also said the virus is serious and he hopes that people in Sedgwick County continue to take it seriously.

Copyright 2020 KWCH. All rights reserved.

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