Gov. Kelly says unified testing strategy, mask mandates work

Published: Dec. 22, 2020 at 11:25 AM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Kansas’ unified testing strategy and mask ordinances seem to be working to reduce the spread of COVID-19, according to the Governor.

Governor Laura Kelly says Kansas has seen 4,174 new positive cases of COVID-19 since Friday, Dec. 18, as well as 107 new deaths related to the virus. She said this puts Kansas at 204,600 positive cases since the beginning of the pandemic, 6,267 hospitalizations and 2,448 deaths. She said the vaccine rollout will be a months-long process and urges residents to continue to listen to public health experts and wear masks, avoid large gatherings and social distance.

“The evidence is clear wearing a mask is an effective strategy to mitigate COVID-19 in our communities and an essential element of my all of the above strategy to protect Kansans,” she said.

According to Gov. Kelly, based on the effective reproduction rate in Kansas, she said she can safely say the implementation of the unified testing strategy and county mask mandates have led to being able to control the spread of the virus for the first time since the stay at home order was lifted. She said the efforts continue to slow the spread of the virus. She said under the unified testing strategy, 132,000 COVID-19 tests have been given to Kansas residents. She said 946,00 tests have been given since the beginning of the pandemic. For more information on Kansas’ 36 testing sites, visit She said more sites will be added on a weekly basis. She said screening is key to catching asymptomatic carriers.

“We put a whole lot of money into the testing program and we were going to have a very hard time in fact it was going to be impossible to spend it in that length of time so now that we have that extension we’ll be able to use that money more appropriately and effectively,” she said. “We know the successful implementation of the unified testing has led to the control of the spread of the virus in Kansas for the first time since the state-at-home-order was lifted in May.”

Dr. Lee Norman, Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment says he is grateful to Kansans for following CDC and KDHE guidelines over the Thanksgiving holiday, which did not create a surge of new COVID-19 cases. He said he is recommending low-risk activities for Christmas as well, like having small dinners with only the people in your household, preparing traditional family recipes for family and neighbors and delivering them in a safe, no-contact manner and hosting virtual dinners. He said this will help the state not see a surge of cases after Christmas as well.

Governor Laura Kelly said she is relieved to see funding for small businesses, vaccine distribution, an extension for unemployment benefits and an extension on the amount of time to spend CARES Act money in the new COVID-19 relief bill that is currently awaiting a signature from President Donald Trump. However, she said there was no funding allocated to local or state governments in the new package, which she says could lead to budget cuts for essential employees and programs that help with COVID-19 recovery in Kansas. She said she continues to urge Kansas delegates to push for additional funding for states and cities.

She said, “Tremendous progress has been made. Are there problems still? Yes. Will there be problems tomorrow? Yes, but it’s how we approach problem solving that’s most important and we have approached it pretty aggressively and I think, have been able to resolve most of the problems. Obviously, not all of them.”

According to Gov. Kelly, vaccines are first going to healthcare workers and long-term care facility residents. She said healthcare workers will receive the Moderna vaccine, which Kansas received its first shipment of early this week, and the Pfizer vaccine will continue to go to long-term care facility residents. She said the state anticipates 49,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine by the end of the week and 17,500 Pfizer doses.

Gov. Kelly said she would like to recognize the hard work of Dr. Allen Greiner, Chief Medical Officer for the Unified Government Public Health Department in Wyandotte Co. She said Dr. Greiner has helped work to curb the spread of the virus in one of the state’s most populated counties.

For more information on COVID-19 in Kansas, click here.

Dec. 22, 11:45 a.m

Gov. Kelly to host COVID-19 update

Governor Laura Kelly will host a COVID-19 update on Tuesday.

Governor Laura Kelly says she will hold a news conference on Tuesday, Dec. 23, at 4 p.m. to give Kansans an update regarding COVID-19 in the state.

If you cannot view our video player, click here or follow along on our Facebook Live.

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