Cowley County will follow the state’s reopening plan after Gov. Laura Kelly this week rescinded her statewide order and let local officials determine their own coronavirus restrictions.

Public Health Officer Thomas Langer issued a press release late Wednesday afternoon announcing the decision. The order he issued, effective at 12 a.m. Wednesday, essentially holds in place the current limitations people were being asked to follow until a special session of the Legislature starting June 3 that could provide more clarity on how things will move forward, the release states.

The local order allows for the state guidance to be amended locally to fit Cowley County’s needs as long as public health indicators connected to COVID-19 remain stable or in decline, the release states.

It makes little sense to keep our county restricted unnecessarily, yet we must remain deliberate and not just abandon all the precautions that have been working in Cowley County” Langer said. “The pandemic response plan that exists for our county provides for the activation of a working group that will consist of members of local government, emergency management, business and public health to consider changes moving forward.” 

The City-Cowley County Health Department, which Langer administers, also updated its COVID-19 testing numbers Wednesday. They show 596 tests have been performed since the pandemic started, with four positive results and one active case. Two people who tested positive here have left the county and are not counted in the positive totals.

Statewide, the number of COVID-19 cases increased by 119 since Monday to 9,337, and virus-related deaths jumped by 17 to 205, according to state public health officials.

Around Cowley County, Sedgwick County had 543 cases, Butler County 30 cases, Sumner County six cases and Chautauqua County four cases. Kay County, Okla. had 52 cases and Osage County 93.

The Cowley County order, which can be viewed at, states that mass gatherings, individual, business, education and essential functions shall remain as outlined in Ad Astra: Plan to Reopen Kansas.

That plan keeps the county in Phase 2, which began Friday and states that certain actives should remain closed including large entertainment venues with 2,000-plus capacity, fairs, festivals, parades, summer camps, most swimming pools and bars and nightclubs.

Other businesses that had been allowed to open should maintain social distance between consumers, individuals and groups, follow cleaning and public health practices 

“Recreational, youth, or other non-professional organized sports facilities, sports tournaments, sports games, and sports practices should occur if they follow guidelines established by the Kansas Recreation & Park Association and approved by the Department of Health and Environment and posted on,” according to the plan, which can be viewed at

Mass gatherings of more than 15 people are discouraged and individuals are strongly encourage to wear masks in a public setting and maintain a six-foot social distance.

Any employee exhibiting symptoms should be required to stay home, and non-essential travel should be minimized.

Phase 3 of the plan, which allows all business and activity to resume under certain restrictions, begins June 8.

The local health department also provided guidance for individuals and business to prevent the spread of the disease, including advice about travel and requests for variances to the guidelines for businesses.

“The hope is that we can move a bit quicker toward full activity but not at the risk of community health and safety,” the press release states. “We do not want a ‘wild west’ scenario in our county where everyone just does their own thing and that invites visitors from outside of our county that could cause a new spread of the virus.” 


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(1) comment


Ridiculous! Open up our county and open up our great state. Even Sedgwick County Commissioners had the sense to open up their county. Cowley has shown four cases. One was a very sick man who had many underlying health issues including heart failure. He tested negative upon leaving Ark City Hospital. Of the other three confirmed cases, two were people from other states - here visiting or seeking employment. The only other and true case was from a person whose spouse reportedly traveled for his work and she quarantined. It is summer and even the science proves that sunshine and fresh air are best. Our kids need to get outside, go swimming, have summer ball and all the rest. I have seen first-hand the effects of this shut-down on our kids and grandkids. We should all be thankful for our great blessings of being spared the numbers of cases in the larger cities. Our great state is blessed with wide-open spaces. Cowley County Admin have to know that people will simply do what they have been doing this whole time - shop in Oklahoma or other open areas. Cowley is losing lots of revenue and just look around at all the local businesses that have closed or are closing for good. Even some of our larger stores won't be coming back - like Walgreens and Dollar General in Ark City. What is going on? Is it all the grant money that is coming in? It's time to get back to work and open up our county and our great state. There is a point where common sense tells you that the attempted cure cannot be worse than the illness. Our hospitals have been empty for weeks and months. Surely they cannot go much longer with that much lost revenue. Not to mention the toll this is all taking on the health of the general public from putting off needed medical procedures and tests. Even dental appointments were cancelled. I personally had an abscessed tooth last year and depend on my follow-up appointments. Mine was cancelled in March and rescheduled for late September. t will be a year since I will receive dental care by September. That is not OK. Others I know had needed heart follow-up this whole time only to find all appointments canceled for weeks and months as well. The real heart-break if the children and teens. It doesn't take a psychologist to notice the lasting effect of all of this on the kids. Let them get back to some sort of childhood. They can't keep living in emergency mode. It's not right. Look around. This is Kansas and especially Cowley County. It's OK now to come out of your homes. Even New York proved that it is not healthy to just hold up in your homes. They proved that more people (65%) of the sickness reported came from those who stayed home. Those out and about and going to work reported having less cases. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to express my rural common sense opinion - but it's based on science and facts. Open up our churches! Open up our schools! Open up our commerce. Soak up that good Kansas sunshine at the pools, parks, and lakes. Thank the good Lord for this spot on His green earth. Come on Cowley. You have always led the way to tomorrow. Don't slack off on that leadership now. After 17 mores and as many years of military travel - it is so good to be home in Kansas and especially in Cowley County. Love to all.

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