Kansas Democrat Governor Laura Kelly signed an executive order on Monday mandating that masks be worn in public spaces throughout the state, saying it is one of the only defenses against COVID-19, which has claimed the lives of six Kansans recently, and hinted that the mandate may continue until a vaccine is developed and made widely available.
In an order set to begin at midnight on Friday, July 3, Kansans will be legally required to wear masks in public, in what the governor says is the “only defense” against the spread of COVID-19.
Kelly, who removed her mask as she approached the microphone, noted the recent trend upward in the total number of COVID-19 cases in Kansas, which went up by just under 1,000 in recent days as testing is expanded across the country, before revealing her executive order.
“Therefore I’m announcing that beginning 12:01 a.m. July 3rd, every Kansan in a public space must wear a mask,” said Kelly.
“This doesn’t change where you can go, or what you can do, it just means that if you’re around other people, you must wear a mask.”
Kelly also said that until a vaccine is developed and made widely available, social distancing and mask wearing must be used constantly, seeming to suggest that this executive order mandating masks will remain in place.
Kansas Republicans previously came close to stripping Kelly of her power to craft such executive orders, only to have their legislation vetoed by the governor, who later modified her previous executive orders into suggestions not meant to be punished by law.
The state’s Republicans also prevented Kelly from using COVID-19 to enact statewide mail-in ballots.
This is a breaking news story and may be updated as more information becomes available.