WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - Governor Laura Kelly is now mandating that people wear masks in public places beginning Friday, July 3rd at 12:01 a.m.

"COVID-19 is still in our communities, and it is still spreading," said Kelly.

This comes after the state announced a jump to over 14,000 cases of the virus, increasing by 905 since Friday. The governor's decision to require masks is sparking controversy.

"I think it's awesome. Because now that they've been letting up on this virus, more cases are happening," said Wichita resident Michael Llamas.

"I'm not a lawyer, but I don't know if that might violate any constitutional laws. It feels like it. It feels wrong to me," said Wichita resident Phong Nguyen.

Nguyen said he doesn't think decisions like whether or not someone should wear a mask should be up to the government.

"To me, this COVID thing is not anywhere near what it's presented to be. So I think the mandate is a little bit overreaching," said Nguyen.

But Llamas disagrees.

"That's our governor. That's who watches over us, takes care of us, feeds us, loves us," said Llamas.

Nguyen said he knows people will disagree, but that real progress will require humility from both sides.

"Even if I'm wrong, I hope I can articulate why I'm wrong. I mean, even if you're wrong, I hope you, as long as you can articulate a solid argument, I'm more than happy to listen," said Nguyen.

While many people are in disagreement over the issue, in the end, everyone has the same hope.

"I hope that this comes to an end," said Llamas.

"The ultimate hope would be a vaccine. You know, just so we can help start treating people faster and better," said Nguyen.

Governor Kelly said until there's a vaccine widely manufactured and distributed, this is one of the only known ways to slow the spread of the virus.


Previous story: TOPEKA, Kan. (KAKE) - Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly says masks will be required in public statewide to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

The governor made the announcement during her Monday update from Topeka. The new mandate begins at 12:01 a.m. Friday.

"When the pandemic first hit, there was mixed messaging about masks. Now the evidence could not be clearer. Wearing a mask is not only safe but it is necessary to avoid another shutdown," Gov. Kelly said.  

Under the order, most Kansans must wear masks in stores and shops, restaurants, and in any situation in which social distancing of six feet cannot be maintained, including outside.

Gov. Kelly said her administration will issue specific guidance later this week and will work with the state attorney general's office to implement the policy.

Enforcement of the order will be at the local level.

The Kansas Attorney General’s Office will work closely with officials in Kelly’s administration to ensure that the order complies with Kansas law.

Florida and South Carolina were also added to the travel quarantine list. Kansans who travel to either states on or after June 29 are asked to quarantine for 14 days. 

For more information on COVID-19 health guidance, please visit covid.ks.gov.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 
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