LAWRENCE – A task force under Douglas County’s Unified Command has decided to align with Gov. Laura Kelly’s phased reopening plans.
“Based on our current number of COVID-19 cases and the health metrics we are examining, we believe its prudent to align with the governor’s plan with no additional local restrictions at this time,” said Douglas County’s Local Health Officer Dr. Thomas Marcellino. “Douglas County residents have done a good job up to this point at helping flatten the curve of the virus, and we continue to ask them to follow guidelines like keeping their circle of contacts small, staying home as much as possible and wearing cloth masks in public.”
Gov. Laura Kelly has presented her detailed framework for a phased-in approach to reopening the state, though her plan enables counties to be more restrictive if needed. You can review reopening guidance by specific industries at douglascountyks.org/coronavirus and ldchealth.org/coronavirus. On May 22, the Governor moved the state into Phase 2. Read the full Governor’s plan for details on the difference between the phases, and you can read these FAQs about Phase 2.
Under phase 2, the Governor’s plan prohibits mass gatherings of 15 or more people, and keeps the following establishments or activities closed:
- Bars and nightclubs, excluding those already operating curbside and carryout service
- Large entertainment venues with capacity of 2,000+
- Fairs, festivals, parades
- Swimming pools
- Summer camps
As part of the earlier phase 1.5 that took effect May 18, nail salons, barber shops, hair salons, tanning salons, tattoo parlors and other personal service businesses where close contact cannot be avoided may open, but only for pre-scheduled appointments or online check-in.
Fitness centers and health clubs may open, but in-person group classes may not occur, and locker rooms must be closed except as necessary to use bathroom facilities.
Licensed childcare facilities may continue operations pursuant to state and local regulations.
Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health staff and Unified Command partners have worked in recent weeks in partnership with The Chamber of Lawrence and Lawrence Restaurant Association to distribute guidance to businesses to help them plan to reopen safely for the benefit of both patrons and staff.
Through May 25, Douglas County has 63 COVID-19 cases since its first lab-confirmed case on March 16, and residents have lived under several local health orders since mid-March.
The Unified Command task force has also unveiled a Smart and Safe: Reopening Douglas County Community Scorecard available online, and it includes metrics that are helping guide the task force’s decisions on how to proceed with reopening phases or to potentially add restrictions in the future if necessary. The scorecard includes information on the status of local transmission cases, potential outbreaks, the number of active COVID-19 cases in the county and the community’s medical surge capacity, including percent of hospital beds in use and percent of ventilators in use at LMH Health.
“Our community members have done a good job so far at practicing social distancing and complying with local health orders, and they have put us in this position where we are now able to open up more of our economy and community,” Marcellino said. “We are watching metrics very closely. If we don’t take social distancing measures seriously, it could be necessary for us to prolong phases of the Governor’s reopening or go back to previous restrictive measures. Cloth masks are especially important and should be used as much as possible.”
“We are proud of how judicious local businesses have been and not rushing into things,” Douglas County Administrator Sarah Plinsky said. “We are being thoughtful, smart and deliberate about these decisions so that we can feel confident as we seek to advance in phases. It’s up to the public to help us maintain this really great success that we’ve had so far.”
The reopening task force including Unified Command leaders representing Douglas County, City of Lawrence, LMH Health and Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health, as well as the University of Kansas, The Chamber of Lawrence, Lawrence Public Schools and Douglas County Emergency Management.
Anyone with questions about a public health order can email firstname.lastname@example.org. If anyone believes they are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19, the Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health Coronavirus Hotline is available at 785-856-4343.