Franklin County will unveil its community reopening plan Friday after hearing the state’s plan.
Gov. Laura Kelly will reveal the state’s plan on Thursday. The Franklin County commissioners will have a special meeting 8:30 a.m. Friday to hear and act on recommendations.
“We do have a community reopening recommendation prepared,” Derek Brown, county administrator/counselor, told the commissioners Wednesday morning during its regular meeting. “It is based on the same three-phase model you have heard about. It is in line with what other local governments are doing for the most part. We didn’t want to unveil that [Wednesday] because we would no more than do that and then the state would have guidance tomorrow that would inevitably contradict something we have.”
Brown said more than likely, Kelly will give local governments control on timelines to reopen communities.
“We expect to receive a hard mandate for each of those phases,” he said. “They will have some mandates about certain type of businesses. We are not going to know for sure until we get that guidance.”
The timing of Kelly’s announcement made it mandatory to call a special meeting, Brown said.
“The stay-at-home order will expire on Sunday,” he said. “If we don’t do something Friday, we are going to hit Monday and there is not going to be an order in place.”
Brown said Dr. Bud Ransom, the county health officer, along with the county team, will be available during the Zoom meeting.
“We also have a workforce re-entry plan that we will share with the board,” Brown said. “That will deal with how we will open up county buildings. Most of the staff that are working from home are doing just fine. The question I have is the employees in the old courthouse, particularly the treasurer’s office as tax payments are due.”
Alan Radcliffe, Franklin County Emergency Management director, reminded everybody that COVID-19 will not magically disappear in the near future.
“The one thing I want to reiterate to everybody is the fact when the stay-at-home order is lifted, we are not done with COVID-19 and things go back to normal,” he said. “Emergency Management’s primary goal is to get things back to normal as quickly as possible. It is a little bit different with a pandemic and the COVID-19 response because normal is going to a little different for everybody after this. The incident will last throughout the rest of this year and maybe into next year.”
Commissioner Ianne Dickinson said an increase in positive cases is going to happen no matter when governments reopen their communities.
“We are hoping that when we flatten the curve, we would be able to have our health resources in place so they could take care of [our needs],” she said.
Radcliffe said having a three-phase approach allows them to pull back if necessary.
“If we do see a big surge in positive cases because of large gatherings or community spread with this, we are going to go back a phase or two,” he said. “I can see the summer being very fluid and hopefully we don’t have those issues. In our plan, we are going to have guidance for the community, our community leaders and county commission, to allow us to move back-and-forth if we need to in this plan.”
County officials were frustrated by the lack of testing supplies.
“The lack of testing transcends the state of Kansas,” Brown said. “That has been an issue at the federal level from the very beginning. We are not New York, Seattle or LA. That has hurt our ability on a statewide level to get those tests. This whole premise of opening back up is that we can do it if we aggressively test and aggressively contact trace. My concern is we don’t have the tests we need.”
There have been less than 300 county residents tested since the beginning of the outbreak. The county has 14 positive cases with 13 recoveries as of Wednesday morning.