WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) – Update: Dr. Garold Minns, the top health official in Sedgwick County, is recommending a new public health order on masks.
According to the order, masks would need to be worn:
- within any indoor public space
- while outdoors, in line waiting to enter an indoor public space and/or unable to maintain social distancing at all times
- while riding on public transportation or while in a taxi, private car service or ride-sharing vehicle
Additionally, it is proposed all businesses, organizations and non-profits in Sedgwick County must require all employees, customers, visitors or members of the public to wear a mask or face covering when:
- employees are working in any space visited by customers or members of the public
- employees who are working in any space where food is prepared or packaged for sale or distribution
- employees are in any room or enclosed area where other people are present and unable to maintain a six foot distance except for infrequent or incidental moments of closer proximity
These exceptions include:
- children age two years and under
- persons with a medical condition, mental health condition, who are hearing impaired or have a disability that prevents wearing a face covering
- individuals who are actively speaking in front of an audience of other individuals, including at a religious institution, wedding, funeral, an open meeting of a political or taxing subdivision
The Sedgwick County Commission will hold a special meeting today at 4 p.m. to discuss whether to approve and/or amend the order. Eyewitness News will be there and cover the meeting live at KWCH.com.
With the status of area hospitals at a critical level with a surge in COVID-19 cases and depleted availability of beds, Sedgwick County’s top health official is expected to address the issue Friday. Sedgwick County Manager Tom Stolz confirmed the county’s health officer, Dr. Garold Minns is considering a proposed mask order due to the increased stress on the hospital system.
As of Wednesday, the Area Hospital Status Assessment, showed 180 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 compared to 147 on Monday; 61 in the ICU compared to 56 earlier in the week.
“If you compare our numbers and the pace of growth, it’s like we were at the end of October to the beginning of November when our surge really took over and our hospitals transitioned to primarily COVID-based care,” said Wesley Medical Center ICU Medical Director Dr. Chloe Steinshouer who is a pulmonary and critical care physician.
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