Following Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto of a bill that would have capped her emergency powers during the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday, Johnson County health officials say they’re strongly recommending local businesses and residents follow the state’s Ad Astra reopening plan even though the county won’t impose new official limits.
With Kelly’s veto of the bill, the authority to set and enforce public health policies to stem the spread of the virus effectively falls to the counties. While Johnson County’s top health officers say they don’t plan to put any new restrictions in place given current conditions, they stressed the need for businesses and residents to be responsible in exercising social distancing and hygiene practices.
“We cannot stress highly enough the importance of residents and businesses continuing to follow the guidance of the Ad Astra plan. This will give us the time we need to monitor the data and see the impact of loosening restrictions, reopening businesses and the gatherings that occurred over the Memorial Day weekend,” said Johnson County Health Officer Joseph LeMaster, MD, MPH. “It is crucial that we all continue to practice physical distancing, wear barrier masks where we cannot maintain social distancing, practice good hygiene and make decisions that protect the health of the community. If businesses and residents follow the recommendations, we have hope that the good progress we have made until now will continue.”
Sanmi Areola, PhD, director of the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment, said his office was keeping a close eye on the number of cases in the county as economic activity resumes.
“Now that we are a few weeks past the end of the stay-at-home order and the beginning of reopening our economy, we are seeing an increase of positive cases, just as we anticipated,” Areola said. “We will continue to investigate outbreaks, increase testing and ramp up contact tracing and investigations. We will also continue to work with Long Term Care Facilities to mitigate the spread among our most vulnerable population. We’ve appreciated how Johnson County has taken steps to flatten the curve, and strongly urge you to continue to help with that effort.”