“The last few months have presented many new challenges for Kansans, and all of us want to return to our normal lives and routines,” Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, said in a news release. “Unfortunately, we have seen a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths across our state and our country. We must act. Viruses don’t stop at county lines. This order doesn’t change where you can go or what you can do. But wearing a mask is a simple and effective way to keep Kansans healthy and keep Kansas open for business.”
The order goes into effect starting Friday.
“This is a simple, proactive step we can take to keep Kansans at work, get our kids back to school, and keep ourselves and our neighbors healthy,” Kelly added. “Wearing a mask is not only safe—but it is necessary to avoid another shutdown.”
The order (pdf) doesn’t apply to children under the age of 6, the deaf, or people who have medical conditions that make breathing difficult.
She said the Kansas attorney general’s office will work with her office to make sure the order complies with Kansas state law.
Kansas has reported nearly 15,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus since the pandemic started in early March and reported 272 COVID-19-related deaths as of Wednesday. Since Kelly lifted statewide restrictions on businesses and public gatherings immediately after Memorial Day, Kansas has had 5,653 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, which amounted to a 61 percent increase, and 84 deaths—a 45 percent jump.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, the United States recorded more than 50,000 CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus cases on Wednesday, although other trackers have noted that the daily death toll has been relatively low in recent weeks.
Vice President Mike Pence told CNBC on Thursday that he doesn’t believe there is a need for a “national mandate” to wear masks.
“The truth is that we’re monitoring right now 12 states that have rising cases and rising positivity, and we’re fully supporting efforts that the governors are taking and local health officials are taking to encourage people to practice good hygiene, social distancing, wear a mask where social distancing is not possible,” he said.
Earlier in the week, Pence said that four states accounted for more than 50 percent of new cases: Florida, Texas, California, and Arizona.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.