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Lyon County to remain in modified phase 2 through June 8, extends disaster declaration

Read the original article from the Emporia Gazette from May 27, 2020

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The decision was announced along with the signing of a new disaster declaration by Lyon County Commission Chairman Rollie Martin Wednesday morning. The declaration comes a day after the governor gave the power back to local governments to decide on their own reopening strategies. 

The declaration states that “the Chairman of the Board of Lyon County Commissioners of Kansas finds that a disaster has occurred, or the threat thereof is imminent within Lyon County, Kansas as a result of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) and the confirmed outbreak and person-to-person spread of COVID-19 in the United States and Kansas.”

The conditions remain where the virus presents a “significant impact” and can “endanger the public health, safety and welfare of persons and property within the borders” of the county.

Lyon County Emergency Manager Jarrod Fell said the disaster declaration was needed because the community continues to see active cases in the area. 

“Our case numbers have reduced over time — at one point we had well over 160 active cases — however, they are not reducing to the point where we are not concerned about the demand on public health resources right now,” Fell said. “I think the hospital capacity is doing fine — at this point. I think the concern is that we’d like to see a couple more weeks of data to see how many more people are going to get sick from more people being out in the community, and see how that is going to affect our community response.”

In the modified version of phase 2, the current limitations remain in place: 

  • Mass gatherings of more than 15 individuals will be prohibited;
    • All businesses and activities slated to open during Phase 2 will be allowed, with the exception of bars, night clubs and swimming pools. These will be moved to Phase 3;
  • Businesses and activities that will be allowed to open in Phase 2 include:
  • Recreational organized sports facilities, tournaments and practices will be allowed to begin on Friday, May 22, and must adhere to social distancing requirements and follow Parks and Recs guidelines, which can be found on;
  • Community Centers will be allowed to open, except for indoor and outdoor swimming pools;
  • Indoor leisure spaces such as arcades, trampoline parks, theaters, museums and bowling allies will be allowed to open on May 22;
  • State-owned-and-operated casinos will be allowed to open once their re-opening plan has been approved by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment;
  • In-person group exercise classes will be allowed to begin with groups of no more than 15 at a time. Locker rooms remain closed except for restroom facilities;

Under Phase 2, the following, unless they are repurposed for use in an essential function under the Kansas Essential Function Framework, shall remain closed to the public:

  • Bars and night clubs, excluding curbside and carryout services;
  • Outdoor and indoor large entertainment venues with capacity of 2,000 or more;
  • Fairs, festivals, carnivals, parades;
  • Swimming pools (other than backyard pools);
  • Summer camps (with the exception of licensed childcare facilities).

Fell said it’s important for the community to continue observing strategies for wearing facial coverings, social distancing and hand hygiene at this time. 

“Something to remember, especially if you’re somebody who’s more susceptible, the 6-feet for 10 minutes is fine for incidental close-contact,” he said. “When you start spending more time with somebody, the distance matters less. When we sit in a conference room for a long period of time, or we’re sitting together for a longer period of time, the risk of exposure is greater. I think that’s important to understand. Just because you’re 6-feet apart, as you start increasing your time together, that distance means less and less.” 

The Gazette has reached out to both Lyon County Public Health Officer Renee Hively and Chairman Rollie Martin for comment. We will update as more information comes in. 

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