GIRARD, Kan. — Following the change this week to Gov. Laura Kelly’s “Ad Astra” reopening plan from a statewide requirement to a set of recommended guidelines that can be more or less strictly enforced by individual counties, Crawford County officials on Friday recommended county residents and businesses continue to follow the plan — but did not issue a public health order requiring them to do so.
Crawford County Commissioner Tom Moody said there might be a misconception among the public that the county still had its own order in place in response to the coronavirus pandemic, but County Health Officer Rebecca Adamson said this was not the case.
“We have rescinded our order and we were just going to follow the governor’s order, so when her order expired then that left Crawford County with no order,” Adamson said.
“I would just like to recommend to the community, and the businesses, the schools, that they continue to follow this plan,” she said, adding that she had received numerous calls about what the current rules are. “And all the businesses that I’ve talked to are planning to continue to follow this plan anyway.”
Adamson said most counties near Crawford County and statewide that have had similar numbers of positive coronavirus cases are also not implementing new legal orders. Crawford County has had eight positive cases and one coronavirus-related death.
“We’re still recommending social distancing, wearing masks if you’re out in public and you’re unable to maintain that social distance,” Adamson said. “Now, bars and nightclubs can be open if they choose to, and I’ve had a few call me, but they have the plans for social distancing just like the other businesses that have been able to open before.”
Moody asked if ball parks and sports facilities could reopen, and Adamson said they would not be legally prohibited from doing so.
“Summer camps were not able to open in Phase 2, fairs, festivals and parades and swimming pools that were public were not able to open, but they would be allowed to open if they chose to because we wouldn’t have a legal order in place,” she said.
Commissioner Bruce Blair pointed out that businesses and other organizations that may want to reopen can always call the county health department for guidance on how to do so safely.
“The idea was to flatten the curve, and that’s been done,” said Moody.
“Yeah, I mean with Crawford County, today it’s been a month since we’ve had a positive, so I would say, you know, we’ve done really well,” Adamson said.
Adamson noted that while rapid testing for COVID-19, the disease caused by novel coronavirus, has not been made available locally, testing has been ongoing. People with two or more symptoms of COVID-19 can still get tested at the county health department, and other organizations are doing their own testing.
One area nursing home tested all of its hundreds of residents and staff, and although they found one positive case, “they didn’t live in Crawford County and they hadn’t worked for a long time, so it really was not a risk, per se, with that facility,” Adamson said.
In response to a question from Commissioner Jeremy Johnson about what could potentially trigger the county to issue a new order that would result in businesses having to close again, Adamson said there was no set number of positive cases that would have to be identified.
“There’s no magic number,” she said.
Adamson said there were four main metrics the county health department will continue to monitor to determine if it will be necessary to issue another order — the death rate, the healthcare system’s ability to handle COVID-19 cases, its ability to test, and its ability to trace, isolate, and quarantine people who have come in contact with people who have tested positive.
“I feel like we will get another positive,” Adamson said. “Everyone feels that way I think, all the states and counties and municipalities, but I don’t think it means that we have to shut everything down, you know, I think it just depends on where they work, who they’ve been around, there’s a whole plethora of things that we could ask them.”