This content is being provided for free as a public service to our readers during the coronavirus outbreak. Please support local journalism by subscribing to The Newton Kansan online at

In light of Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto of a bill passed by the Kansas Legislature that would have curtailed her emergency authority during the COVID-19 outbreak, the Harvey County Commission met Tuesday night and acted to implement Phase 2 of the county’s reopening plan.

Phase 2 of the county’s plan largely follows the state’s reopening plan with some variations.

Under the county’s plan, which went into effect at midnight Wednesday, mass gatherings of more than 30 individuals remain prohibited. Social distancing guidelines remain in place. People are encouraged to wear cloth masks in public settings where appropriate.

Nonessential travel is discouraged and quarantine guidelines are in place for those traveling to high-risk areas.

People at higher risk for severe illness are encouraged to stay at home except for essential needs. This includes individuals with underlying conditions such as chronic lung disease, asthma, heart conditions, severe obesity, chronic kidney disease, liver disease, or otherwise immunocompromised. High-risk individuals also include adults 65 years and older.

Working at home remains encouraged. Potentially sick employees are asked to stay home and call their health care provider.

In-person visits to long-term care health facilities remain prohibited. Visits to correctional facilities may gradually be reinstated.

All businesses may open if social distancing guidelines are enforced, fundamental cleaning and public health practices are followed and groups of more than 30 are prohibited.

Bars and nightclubs remain closed but may offer curbside and carryout services.

Activities and venues may open "if they can maintain at least 6 feet of distance between individuals, cleaning and public health practices are practiced, groups of more than 30 are still prohibited."

Recreational, youth, or other non-professional organized sports facilities, sports tournaments, sports games, and sports practices may open or occur if they follow guidelines established by the Kansas Recreation and Park Association and approved by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Remaining prohibited are outdoor and indoor large entertainment venues with capacity of 2,000 or more, including fairs, festivals, carnivals, and parades, summer camps and swimming pools, other than single-family backyard pools or pools being used only for physical therapy or first responder training."

The previous state and county reopening guidelines, dubbed Phase 1.5, expired at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday.

There were 634 individuals tested in the county, an increase of last week by 122. There have been 15 cases reported in Harvey County with 13 recovered. There has been one death related to COVID-19.

Harvey County Health Director Lynnette Redington said there are several people being monitored or in self-quarantine. As of Tuesday morning, no active cases are reported.

Redington said the county testing rate is 15.8 per 1,000 people.

"We continue to monitor our personal protective equipment — the availability and use of," Harvey County Emergency Management director Gary Denny said. "We try to keep an anticipatory outlook on what those needs may be in the future. We moving forward into a public assistance program, with the help of FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and KDHE (Kansas Department of Health and Environment) real soon."

The county did extend its current county disaster declaration for 60 days, ending July 30.