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Gov. Laura Kelly said during a press briefing Monday, July 27, that COVID-19 cases are increasing at a substantial rate in Kansas.

“I have the unfortunate task of once again announcing our numbers are at an all-time high,” Kelly said. “… If we continue this trajectory, I will have no other choice than to recommend that we move back to Phase 2 of the Ad Astra plan to reopen Kansas by next week. That means mass gatherings would be limited again to 15 individuals and that bars and nightclubs would need to close. I do not want to go backwards. We can and we must do better.”

Kansas has 26,172 cases and 335 deaths, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported Monday. The state added 1,063 new cases and nine more deaths over the weekend.

KDHE also reported the average age of individuals with COVID-19 continues to drop and the median age of cases is now 37.

Kelly said she thinks the fact the state does not have a statewide mask order has been a problem.

“We know masks stem the spread,” Kelly said. “I think in Kansas, and certainly across the country, that people have gotten a little apathetic about maintaining social distance and avoiding mass gatherings — and from that we are seeing a huge spike. We are seeing it here in Kansas and we’re seeing it all across the country.”

She urged county commissions to reinstate her statewide mask mandate and noted that many school districts, including most of the state’s largest ones, are following her recommendation not to reopen schools for in-person instruction until after Labor Day.

Like the state, Miami County has seen a surge in cases in July. The county topped the century mark in cases over the weekend. KDHE reported Monday that Miami County has 108 cases, up 12 cases since Friday, July 24. The county entered the month with 34 cases on July 1.

“We cannot pretend this virus is disappearing with the summer heat,” Kelly said. “And we cannot pretend it doesn’t hurt Kansans, because it does.”

Kelly said elected leaders in Kansas cannot continue to sit back in silence.

“The health and safety of Kansans depend on it,” she said.

The state currently has 131 active outbreaks that it is monitoring, and cases continue to climb, Kelly said.

“We will continue to monitor the situation this week and then we will make a decision whether to issue another executive order next week,” she said.

News Editor Doug Carder can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or doug.carder@miconews.com.

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