Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The spread of COVID-19 (also referred to as Coronavirus) is an ongoing threat in our community and each day comes with new updates and information. As this pandemic continues to affect our daily lives, I’ll be sharing information and resources here from local, state and federal government agencies to make this time a little easier for all of us.
As a Kansas Legislator, I ask you to heed the warnings of government and public health officials by staying home except for essential trips and services. This is especially important given that individuals infected with COVID-19 are often contagious for days or weeks before showing any symptoms. Please consider not only your health, but the health of those around you, especially the elderly and our neighbors with compromised immune symptoms, who are particularly susceptible to the virus.
Kansas’s state motto is Ad Astra Per Aspera, or “To the Stars through Difficulty.” Together we can weather this storm and take care of one another. Thank you for your strength, patience and respect for public health. Please contact me if you have any problems with which I may be able to assist.
Note: Resources and information below are updated regularly, but the most up to date information can still be found on official government and public health websites. Visit the state's dedicated website for timely updates: https://covid.ks.gov/.
- General Information
- Health Information
- Economic Benefits and Relief
- State and Legislative Action
- Other Resources
Check-in Calls with Neighbors - If you're looking to help out by making calls to check-in on our neighbors in Senate 8, sign-up here. We'll be making sure everyone in the community has what they need and knows the most up to date information.
Stay-at-home Orders and Reopening Plan
Last week the Governor released the State's "Ad Astra" Reopening Plan. The Plan has four phases based on various public health measures, including number of positive cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
Throughout the summer, the Governor's office in coordination with officials from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment will monitor the crisis and determine when to move on to the next phase of recovery.
If unable to view this image, refer to this link.
CDC Mask Recommendation - The CDC has recommended the wearing of masks in public spaces to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. Masks are in short supply and largely reserved for high risk populations and health care workers, but can be improvised using items you may have at home. Johnson County is also accepting donations of homemade masks from those looking to help their community from their homes.
Statewide Map of COVID-19 Cases
Mandatory Quarantine following Certain Travel - The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has ordered individuals who have recently traveled to certain locations to self-quarantine for 14 days following their arrival in the state. This includes those who have:
- Traveled to a state with known widespread community transmission:
- On or after March 8: Eagle, Summit, Pitkin and Gunnison counties in Colorado
- On or after March 15: California, Florida, New York and Washington state
- On or after March 23: Illinois or New Jersey
- On or after March 27; Louisiana or anywhere in Colorado
- On or after April 6; Connecticut
- On or after April 30; Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
- Traveled on a cruise ship or river cruise on or after March 15. (People who have previously been told by Public Health to quarantine because of their cruise ship travel should finish out their quarantine.)
- Traveled internationally on or after March 15. (People who have previously been told by Public Health to quarantine because of their international travel to China, South Korea, Japan, Italy and Iran should finish out their quarantine.)
- Received notification from public health officials (state or local) that you are a close contact of a laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19.
School Buildings Closure – On March 17, Governor Kelly issued an executive order requiring that school buildings remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.
Continuous Learning Plans - Plans were created using guidance from the State Task Force on Continuous Learning, which met March 16-18, 2020. Blue Valley, Olathe and Shawnee Mission public schools started their respective continuous learning programs beginning Monday, March 30. Students and guardians should look for further updates from their schools and districts via email.
Meal Programs - All three major school districts in the 8th Kansas Senate district are providing students with breakfast and lunch pick-up while school buildings remain closed. Follow the below links to find out more about your district's pick-up times and locations.
Economic Benefits and Relief
State Unemployment Benefits – Those who have lost jobs or income during this period are eligible for unemployment benefits under the regular system and guidelines. Unemployment benefits have temporarily been extended from 16 to 26 weeks.
On March 31, Governor Kelly issued an executive order to to draw down all available federal stimulus funds, extend unemployment benefits to the self-employed, 1099-independent contractors, gig and low-wage workers. This order also increases weekly benefits for all unemployed workers to by $600 per week for up to four months and removes the one-week wait and work-seeking requirements and requires employers to notify employees if they are eligible for unemployment benefits.
To learn more about who is eligible and how to apply, visit the Kansas Department of Labor unemployment page.
- Employers who need to lay-off workers are encouraged to file by spreadsheet to assist with the volume of new claims.
- The Department of Labor is currently experiencing an extremely high number of calls and is having difficulty reaching all benefits claimants. The Department asks that you file online before 8:30am or after 4:30pm to assist with the high volume of applications.
Federal CARES Act - The federal government passed the CARES Act, a stimulus and relief bill that includes an increase in unemployment benefits. The state is awaiting federal guidance and will begin implementation of the program as soon as it is able.
DCF Child Care Subsidy program - DCF continues it's program to help pay for child care costs via food, cash and childcare assistance. You can learn more about the program or apply for benefits here. (Solicitar servicios aquí)
WIC Physical Presence Requirement Waived - Effective March 23 through May 31, recipients of the WIC supplemental food and nutrition education program will no longer need to appear in person to receive benefits. To apply for benefits or for more information visit the Johnson County WIC website or call (913) 826-1302.
Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program – Small business owners feeling the economic effects of COVID-19 are eligible to apply for low-interest loans. Learn more about the program here.
Hospitality Industry Relief Emergency (HIRE) Fund – Governor Kelly allocated $5 million toward zero interest loans for the hospitality sector. Unfortunately, those funds have already been allocated due to the overwhelming initial response, but interested businesses are encouraged to apply in the event that more funds are made available and to help the state collect information on the pandemic’s industry impact. More information available here.
State and Legislative Action
Governor (All actions available here)
Physician Supervision or Collaboration Requirements - On April 22, Governor Kelly issued and executive order to temporarily waive physician supervision or collaboration requirements for some medical licensees, including advanced practice registered nurses, physician assistants and licensed practical nurses. This allows certain medical professionals with licenses that expired in the last five years or those with good-standing out of state licenses to provide medical services.
Adult-Care Facilities and Fire Inspections - On April 16, Governor Kelly issued an executive order that temporarily suspends licensing renewals for adult-care facilities and non-essential fire inspections for facilities licensed by the Kansas Department of Aging and Disabilities Services.
Extension of Stay-at-Home Order - On April 16, Governor Kelly issued an executive order to extend the stay-at-home directive through May 3. The decision was made in collaboration with Missouri Governor Mike Parson and Kelly has also been in contact with Colorado Governor Jared Polis regarding planning for Western Kansas.
Motor Carrier Relief - On April 13, Governor Laura Kelly issued an executive order lifting certain weight restrictions and permitting requirements to allow needed medical supplies, food shipments and other items to move through Kansas as quickly as possible. Exceptions apply only to motor carriers actively participating in COVID-19 response effort.
Remote Notary Services - On April 10, Governor Kelly issued an executive order allowing notaries and witnesses to do jobs remotely through AV technology.
Extension of Professional and Occupational Licenses - On April 10, Governor Kelly issued an executive order extending professional and occupational licenses for the remainder of the pandemic (90 days after the end of the state disaster order)
Clarification of Stay-at-Home Order for Religious Services and Funerals - On April 7, Governor Kelly issued an executive order to clarify that religious services and funerals are limited to ten or fewer individuals, effective Wednesday, April 8.
- Note: A previous executive order limiting all public gatherings, including religious services, was revoked by the Legislative Coordinating Council (LCC). The Governor's office has filed a lawsuit to challenge the Council's decision and the Supreme Court ruled that the LCC does not have the power to revoke the Governor's orders during this state of emergency.
Unemployment Benefits Extensions and Eligibility Easing - On March 31, Governor Kelly issued an executive order loosening requirements for unemployment eligibility and mirroring some parts of federal labor laws to ensure Kansas can draw the maximum amount of funds from the federal CARES Act stimulus program.
Statewide Stay Home Order - On March 29, Governor Kelly issued an statewide Stay Home order to mitigate the spread and impact of the virus on the state.
- Prohibition of home foreclosures and evictions for inability to pay as a result of COVID-19.
- Prohibition of waste, trash and recycling service suspension for lack of income or increase in expenses as a result of COVID-19.
- 60-day extension of driver’s license and vehicle registration expiration dates.
- Extension of tax filing deadline to July 15, 2020 to align with federal extension.
Limiting Mass Gatherings – On Monday, March 23, Governor Kelly issued an executive order limiting gatherings to no more than ten persons. The Governor had previously limited gatherings to 50 persons on March 17.
- This executive order was rescinded and replaced with an updated order on March 31. That order was revoked by the Legislative Coordinating Council and a lawsuit on the issue will be decided by the Kansas Supreme Court.
Expanding Healthcare System Capacity – On March 22, Governor Kelly issued two executive orders which:
- Allow doctors to prescribe medication via telemedicine consultation,
- Authorize telemedicine for doctors licensed out of state, and
- Permits temporary emergency licenses for healthcare professionals regulated by the Kansas Board of Healing Arts.
Suspension of Utility Disconnects – On March 17, Governor Kelly issued an executive order prohibiting the disconnection of utilities through April 15. This includes electric, natural gas, water and telecommunications service under Kansas Corporation Commission’s jurisdiction.
Emergency Declaration – On March 12, Governor Kelly issued an official emergency declaration for the state, authorizing the use of state resources and personnel for response and recovery operations. The order also gives Kansas access to Federal disaster funds.
Kansas Legislature (All bills and budget have been signed by Governor Kelly)
Senate Bill 27 – Temporary extension of unemployment benefits from 16 to 26 weeks.
Senate Bill 102 – Allows Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice to extend deadlines and time limitations on court proceedings and to allow video conferencing.
Senate Bill 142 – Creates school district waiver program for the required number of in-classroom K-12 education hours per year. Under the program, school districts are required to present plans for continuous learning for their students and to pay hourly employees during the building closures. Salaried workers will be paid normally.
Read more about the above bills here.
Passage of State Budget – Prior to adjourning for the mid-session break, the legislature passed the state budget with several provisions for coronavirus funding, including:
- $50.0 million for the coronavirus response, to be released by the Legislative Coordinating Council following submission by the Director of the Budget and review by the Joint Legislative Budget Committee;
- $17.5 million allocated for Medicaid expansion if passed into law this session. If not passed, this money is reallocated for the Coronavirus Prevention Fund of the State Finance Council.
- $15.0 million for the Kansas Division of Emergency Management for the coronavirus response.
House Resolution 5025 – This resolution ratified and continued the Governor’s March 12 Emergency Declaration. Amendments to the resolution clarified that the Governor cannot seize firearms or ammunition, and that the resolution would need to be renewed every 30 days by the Legislative Coordinating Council.
Kansas Department of Health and Environment COVID-19 Website
- Email: [email protected]
- Hotline: 1-866-534-3463
Johnson County COVID-19 Website
- Hotline: 913-715-CV19 (2819)
- Hours: 7am-7pm,2 Monday-Friday