Cloud County's Emergency Planning Committee Meets to Discuss its Approach to Recovery

Cloud County's Emergency Planning Committee Meets to Discuss its Approach to Recovery

The Cloud County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) met on Friday, May 22nd to discuss the county's approach to recovery and efforts to prevent community transmission of COVID-19.

Lawmakers in Kansas passed a bill early Friday, May 22nd shifting control of the state's COVID-19 pandemic response from Governor Laura Kelly to legislative leaders.  The bill, approved by votes of 27-11 in the Senate and 76-34 in the House, would require Governor Kelly to get permission from legislative leaders to keep businesses closed for more than 15 days or to exercise other broad powers granted to governors during emergencies after May 31st.

The legislation also grants county commissions the opportunity to adopt less stringent policies than an order issued by the governor.

Cloud County Commissioner Gary Caspers said he's encouraged by the legislature's willingness to award more authority to county commissions.

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The state of Kansas moved into a modified Phase 2 of Governor Kelly's “Ad Astra: A Plan to Reopen Kansas" on Friday.  In this phase, mass gatherings of more than 15 individuals will be prohibited.  All businesses and activities slated to open during her original Phase 2 will be allowed, with the exception of bars, night clubs and swimming pools.  Businesses and activities that will be allowed to open in Phase 2 include recreational organized sports facilities, tournaments and practices, community centers, indoor leisure spaces, state-owned-and-operated casinos, and in-person group exercise classes.

Governor Kelly intends for Phase 2 to last until Sunday, June 7th.  Phase 3 is expected to begin on Monday, June 8th, with mass gatherings of more than 45 individuals prohibited.

As the state eases restrictions on business and social activities, Cloud County Public Health Officer Dr. Dorothy Breault said they'll continue to monitor the reopening closely for a possible surge in cases.

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Throughout all phases, Kansans should continue to adhere to hygiene and social distancing protocols, including:

  • Washing hands frequently, while avoiding contact with one’s face;
  • Remaining home when sick or running a fever;
  • Following isolation and quarantine orders issued by state or local health officers;
  • Wearing a cloth face mask when in public;
  • Working remotely, if possible.

Since March 12th, Kansas has operated under a state of emergency.  The emergency declaration is set to expire Tuesday, May 26th.  The measure approved by the legislature Friday extends the state of emergency for COVID-19 through May 31st.   A veto of the bill by Governor Kelly would allow the state of emergency to expire, ending some 30 statewide orders that she has issued and place federal aid in jeopardy.

For the first time, the Cloud County Commission voted this week to declare a Public Health Emergency resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic in Cloud County.  The resolution took effect May 18th and will remain in effect for 60 days unless terminated earlier.

During a conversation on KNCK's "Community Connections," Cloud County Emergency Preparedness/Safety Director James Quillen said the county initiated the Public Health Emergency declaration because it qualifies the county for aid and assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and others.

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Quillen was hired as Cloud County's new Emergency Preparedness/Safety Director effective February 24th.  James joined Cloud County after 23 years with OCCK, Inc., including 21 years in management and leadership positions.

Quillen is responsible for planning, directing, coordinating, organizing and carrying out emergency planning preparedness, mitigation and recovery activities for Cloud County.  He also develops and manages the work of the Local Emergency Planning Committee.

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Quillen said the committee and the Emergency Support Function 8 Public Health & Medical team will be spending the next couple of months reviewing and updating the county's emergency operations plan which is due to the Kansas Division of Emergency Management in September 2020.