Governor, Administration Turns Down Open Records Request

Governor Laura Kelly’s administration has rejected an open records request by the Kansas Reflector seeking the name and location of businesses connected to COVID-19 outbreaks of fewer than 20 infections.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment last week began selectively identifying active clusters of COVID-19 cases with five or more infections for a wide range of locations, but decided it would only disclose the location of private businesses that have 20 or more cases.

KDHE cited a “personal privacy” exemption in state law in rejecting the request to identify all businesses, and the governor’s office said the identity of businesses with up to 19 infections will remain secret because they are not public entities.

The administration wouldn’t explain why personal privacy is a concern for business but not a concern for sports teams, fraternities, rallies, hospitals, churches, or other locations that are named.

Some private businesses, including an optometrist in Colby associated with seven cases, are identified by KDHE because they fall under other categories.

The risk associated with other businesses is kept secret.