As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in Lawrence, an updated public health order mandating a 10 p.m. curfew for restaurants and a limit of 10 people per gathering went into effect Friday.
Douglas County Local Health Officer Dr. Thomas Marcellino said the goal is to find a balance in the community in limiting exposure, but also allowing businesses to stay open.
“Over the course of the pandemic, we have learned more about the science of increased risk of exposure and planning to handle a surge of hospitalizations, but the more people follow the basic public health guidance of mask wearing, social distancing and limiting gatherings, the better off our community will be during this critical time,” Marcellino said. “We are grateful for the businesses in our community that have made sacrifices and worked with us to operate safe environments.”
The updated order calls for an indoor capacity limit of 100 people, or 50 percent of the lowest occupancy policy in businesses such as entertainment venues, recreational facilities and restaurants.
Per the updated order, restaurants must stop serving through regular methods at 10 p.m. However, they can utilize carryout, curbside, and drive-through options past the set curfew for everything except alcoholic beverages.
Douglas County reported 87 new cases since Thursday and a test positivity rate of 11.5%, according to an announcement by local health officials Friday. The county had 936 active cases of the coronavirus as of Friday evening.
Thirty-two patients at Lawrence Memorial Hospital tested positive for the coronavirus as of Friday. Lawrence Memorial Hospital activated their surge plan to provide for more capacity, according to the hospital. As of Friday, 100% of the standard ICU beds were in use and 83% of the surge capacity ICU beds were in use. Additionally, 26% of ventilators were being used.
With Thanksgiving approaching next week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people stay home and celebrate within their households to mitigate the spread of the virus.
“The safest way to celebrate the coming holidays is keeping it limited to your family unit, just those within your household,” said Dr. Jennifer Schrimsher, infectious disease specialist at LMH Health and Deputy Local Health Officer. “We have to create new traditions, creative ways to celebrate in order to help keep our family members and community safer. The more people you come into contact with, the more likely it is that you could become infected or spread infection to loved one.”
Douglas County and KU COVID-19 numbers
Overall, Douglas County has seen 4,226 cases of the coronavirus since the pandemic began and reported 20 deaths overall.
The University of Kansas reported 82 new positive coronavirus tests between Nov. 12 and Nov. 18, according to the KU coronavirus dashboard. In the same time period, KU reported 1,504 negative results for a test positivity rate of 5.15%.
KU has now reported 1,305 total positive coronavirus tests since the university began testing in early August. Overall, KU has a test positivity rate of 3.52%, according to the coronavirus dashboard. As of Nov. 18, 62 people were either quarantined or in isolation in student housing.
KU officials forecasted an average of about 12 new cases of the coronavirus per day in the next 14 days, and a total of 1,420 cases by Dec. 4, according to the updated forecast on the KU coronavirus dashboard. The latest update is similar to estimates officials put out last Friday, where they predicted the number of new cases would spike in the next 14 days.
Statewide, Kansas reported 5,939 new cases of the coronavirus since Wednesday, according to an announcement from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Kansas also reported 84 new deaths and 121 new hospitalizations.