Entry screening

Corrections officer Derek Martin checked the temperature of Joleen Darrah, Axtell, during the screening process for entry to the courthouse Monday.

Kansas continues to reopen gradually with Gov. Laura Kelly announcing Tuesday that the state will advance from a Phase 1.5 to Phase 2, which begins Friday in the state’s reopening plan.

Phase 2 will allow gatherings of no more than 15 people, to continue prevention efforts amid the coronavirus pandemic. But more activities can resume Friday including ball teams with summer recreation programs. It will not allow for swimming pools, bars and night clubs to open yet.

Marshall and Washington counties remained the only two northeast Kansas counties that so far had no reports of positive cases as of Tuesday.

Nemaha County had a total five cases reported, with one person hospitalized from COVID-19 as of Tuesday afternoon. One of the five had recovered from the illness. Four of the cases were reported in recent days, according to the Nemaha County Community Health Service.

Nemaha County health officials reported 145 tests had been completed with 141 negative results by Monday. By Tuesday, one more positive was added.

“We continue to recommend staying home as much as possible,” Nemaha’s health service news release said, “frequent hand washing or use of hand sanitizer, cleaning high-touch services frequently, practicing social distancing and wearing a cloth facial covering when normal social distancing measures are difficult to follow.”

Twenty-one small rural counties had no cases by Monday. A total 7,886 cases with 172 deaths had been reported statewide in 84 counties.

Riley County had recorded 62 cases and Pottawatomie County had 23 by Monday afternoon, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Gage County, Neb., had 42 reported over the past several weeks. Lancaster County, Neb., where Lincoln is located, had a total 892 cases by Tuesday.

Under Kansas’ Phase 2 reopening stage:

• Businesses and activities that will be allowed to open include recreational organized sports facilities, tournaments and practices will be allowed to begin on Friday, May 22, and must adhere to social distancing requirements and follow Parks and Recs guidelines, which can be found on covid.ks.gov.

• Community centers will be allowed to open, except for indoor and outdoor swimming pools.

• Indoor leisure spaces such as arcades, trampoline parks, theaters, museums and bowling allies will be allowed to open on May 22.

• State-owned-and-operated casinos will be allowed to open once their re-opening plan has been approved by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

• In-person group exercise classes will be allowed to begin with groups of no more than 15 at a time. Locker rooms remain closed except for restroom facilities.

• Everything opened in Phase 1 and Phase 1.5 remains open pursuant to the restrictions outlined in Executive Order 20-34.

• Phase 2 will last until June 7, assuming the current trends continue. Phase 3 is expected to begin on June 8 with mass gatherings of no more than 45 people.

Under Phase 2, the following, unless they are repurposed for use in an essential function under the Kansas Essential Function Framework, shall remain closed to the public:

    •    Bars and night clubs, excluding curbside and carryout services.

    •    Outdoor and indoor large entertainment venues with capacity of 2,000 or more.

    •    Fairs, festivals, carnivals, parades.

    •    Swimming pools (other than backyard pools).

    •    Summer camps (with the exception of licensed childcare facilities).

Kelly’s announcement Tuesday said that she will evaluate the state’s disease spread, testing rates, death rates, hospitalizations, ability of state and local public health authorities to contain outbreaks and conduct contact tracing, and personal protective equipment availability when determining if the state should move to the next phase.