County commission recommends county health director issue stay-at-home order



The Sedgwick County Commission discusses a stay at home order at a special meeting on March 23, 2020. The recommendation for the order was passed and sent to the county health director for consideration.

The Sedgwick County Commission has passed a recommendation for a stay-at-home order, which would go into effect on Wednesday.

The board does not have the authority to authorize this order on its own. County Health Director Garold Minns would have to sign the order for it to go into effect.

Minns said at a meeting Sunday that he believes a stay-at-home order is not yet necessary.

Chair Pete Meitzner said health professionals strongly recommended that the county issue such an order.

“[Health professionals were] highly encouraging us to support some kind of stay-at-home order,” Meitzner said. “They believe that the virus is alive in our community. Both hospitals said a few hundred, and one said as many as 1,000 cases are active.”

Commissioner David Dennis said that the county needs to take such recommendations from health professionals seriously.

“We have to make some hard decisions here but we have to rely on people that really, truly are involved in this every single day,” Dennis said. “[They] are making decisions that are life or death decisions and I have to trust their recommendations.

“I can’t sit here and say that I am smarter than they are because I am not.”

The order mandates that all residents stay home except to receive essential services and goods and shuts down all “non-essential” businesses. Critical functions and defense industries would be exempt under the order.

Essential services include but are not limited to food and healthcare.

“This is not a lockdown or a shutdown . . . This is an encouragement to stay at home,” Meitzner said.

Commissioner Lacey Cruse was an avid supporter of the order, saying that community member’s safety should always come first.

“It’s important to understand that people are our most valuable resource,” she said. “We need to talk about taking care of the people who are here. So, I get that many of you think this is an overreaction, but the date and the experts tell us otherwise.”

During the meeting, a third presumptive-positive case in Sedgwick County was announced by City Manager Tom Stoltz. According to the state, the total number of cases is 79 plus two out-of-state residents.

Dennis said the county must take extra precautions in these uncertain times.

“As far as we’re at today, without testing, we don’t know the extent of the problem here in Sedgwick County,” Dennis said.

“That’s a big problem.”

Counties in the Kansas City metro area instated a stay-at-home order Saturday. Those counties include Johnson and Wyandotte counties in Kansas and Jackson County, Missouri. Douglas County, as well as several other counties in Kansas, have also issued such orders since.

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said Monday that it is unlikely she will issue a statewide stay-at-home order. Eighty-nine of the 105 counties in Kansas still have no reported cases of COVID-19, according to Kelly.

The governor did acknowledge that this will likely change in the near future.