Illustrated coronavirus cells fill the frame (copy) (copy)

Douglas County will require masks to be worn in all indoor public spaces beginning Wednesday, according to a release from Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health.

UPDATED, 4:08 P.M. MONDAY: Gov. Laura Kelly announced Monday afternoon a statewide mandate requiring masks to be worn indoors in public spaces across Kansas.

ORIGINAL STORY: Douglas County will require masks to be worn in all indoor spaces if six feet of social distance is not possible, according to a release Monday from Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health. The order goes into effect Wednesday, July 1. 

The order includes businesses, workplaces and public facilities such as community centers or libraries. Masks will not be required inside solitary, enclosed workspaces, such as personal office spaces. 

“Unfortunately, we have seen a steady increase of cases in recent weeks, including localized outbreaks and more than 30 new cases over the past weekend — numbers we had not experienced locally during the pandemic,” said Dr. Thomas Marcellino, Douglas County Health Officer, in the statement. “Wearing masks and cloth face coverings is based on sound science that shows this practice will help slow the spread and decrease the transmission of COVID-19.”

Exemptions will be made for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, children younger than 5 years old, and those with medical conditions that prevent them from wearing a mask. 

“We are asking for compliance, and we are grateful for the individuals who have been wearing [masks] and the businesses in our community who have been requiring masks so far in indoor spaces,” LDCPH Director Dan Partridge said. “As we continue to work together, we believe this order will help as people do more to protect their neighbors and community by wearing masks.”

As Douglas County is still in phase three of its reopening plan through July 5, public gatherings are limited to 45 people. Social distancing should still be in effect as businesses continue to reopen. 

According to the release, Marcellino said due to the majority of recent cases seeming to stem from social gatherings and bar environments, a decision will be made before the end of the week about any potential changes to requirements in phase three by the county’s COVID-19 recovery task force. 

As of Monday afternoon, Douglas County has at least 157 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 89 recoveries, since its first lab-confirmed case on March 17, according to the release. There have been 33 new cases reported since Friday. LMH Health had one inpatient positive for COVID-19 as of Monday morning, Marcellino said. 

LDCPH recommends continuing social distancing practices in public and outdoor places, and to wash hands with soap and water or to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t immediately available. 

The coronavirus hotline, 785-856-4343, is still available for Douglas County residents, and testing/screening options are available.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.