Kansas governor signs bill extending disaster declaration

Gov. Laura Kelly signed a bill Monday that extends the state’s disaster emergency declaration, allowing Kansas to continue to tap into resources for its pandemic response efforts.

The legislation, which extends the declaration to March 31, aims to provide a measure of stability and certainty for the state’s ongoing emergency response efforts.

“Extending the current disaster declaration is essential for our state’s COVID-19 mitigation efforts, allowing us to keep Kansans safe and healthy, keep our economy open, and get our kids back in school as quickly as possible,” Kelly said.

It allows the state to provide COVID-19 testing, provide support to food banks and pantries, and provide hospitals and first responders with personal protective equipment. The legislation also includes provisions such as allowing establishments to continue to sell alcoholic beverages for carryout consumption, expanding the use of telemedicine, and providing for the temporary suspension of certain health care professional licensing and practice requirements.

Kansas health officials reported that 132,145 people, or about 4.5% of the state’s population, have received the COVID-19 vaccine as of Monday. The state has received 255,550 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines so far and administered at least 157,520, including 25,218-second doses.

Meanwhile, Kansas added another 2,602 COVID-19 cases from Friday to Monday, pushing the total in the state to 269,255 cases since the start of the pandemic. It reported 24 more coronavirus-related deaths since Friday, bringing the state’s death toll to at least 3,622.