Phased re-openings and free testing
(May 1) The BOCC voted to table the Johnson County COVID-19 Recovery Planning Task Force recommendations and the county would follow the phases of Governor Laura Kelly’s Reopening Kansas plan.
The Local Health Officer’s order to extend the governor’s stay-at-home order by a week in Johnson County meant that the first phase would begin May 11. Commissioners expressed appreciation for the time and dedication by task force members in preparing a recovery work plan for the county.
Also, on May 1 the chief medical officers and senior elected executives of Jackson County, Missouri; Johnson County, Kansas; and Wyandotte County, Kansas, held a joint press conference Friday morning to discuss coordinated communications efforts regarding their stay-at-home orders.
(May 9) Johnson County Government announced it would begin offering in-person services to the public in a phased approach. Between May 11 and 18, the county opened buildings and front counters, starting with the County Administration Building, in Olathe; Northeast Offices, in Mission; and the Olathe Motor Vehicle Office. As facilities reopened, county staff offered in-person service using a measured approach, prioritizing safety for the public and its employees. The county strongly encouraged the continued use of its other service options (email, online, mail, drop box) during this time.
(May 11) County government buildings reopened, marking the beginning of Phase 1 for Johnson County, as it followed the Governor's Ad Astra: A Plan to Reopen Kansas. The tax collection office in the Johnson County Administration Building opened in a limited capacity, as did the Motor Vehicles offices in Mission and Olathe.
Johnson County Park and Recreation District established a four-phase approach to reopening facilities, services and programs. Though the guidelines allowed some programming to resume in Phase One and Two, most programs would likely begin in Phase Three, which depending on directives from the governor’s office, expected to begin June first. Some summer camps were projected to start May 26 with the majority to begin June first.
(May 13) The CARES Act authorized $330 billion through emergency supplemental appropriations, including more than $6.5 billion for the CDBG Program, the Economic Development Administration, and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership.
(May 18) Free COVID-19 for Johnson County residents over the age of 18 with symptoms of coronavirus began at JCDHE’s Mission and Olathe offices. The department offered drive-thru testing in Olathe on Mondays and Wednesdays and walk-in testing in Mission on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The first workplace-associated cluster of COVID-19 cases in Johnson County was identified at a distribution center in Olathe not accessed by the public. A total of nine employees at the distribution center initially tested positive for COVID-19. JCDHE tested 200 additional employees at the facility.
Johnson County Library’s phased re-opening began with drive-thru book drops at Blue Valley, Lenexa City Center and Monticello branches. Patrons could begin placing new holds at jocolibrary.org for pickup at these locations.
(May 26) Kansas Governor Laura Kelly vetoed House Bill 2054 passed by the Kansas legislature that would have weakened the executive branch’s emergency power during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The state had been in Phase 2 of the Governor’s plan to reopen, but Kelly said going forward, she’d offer her Ad Astra plan only as guidance to county health officials, who can impose health, business and mass gathering limits. Johnson County Government did not impose additional limits, based on current conditions. Johnson County Public Health Officer Dr. Joseph LeMaster and Johnson County Department of Health and Environment Director Dr. Sanmi Areola both strongly recommended that Johnson County residents and businesses continue to adhere to the phases and guidance in the state’s Ad Astra plan.
(May 28) The BOCC renewed and extended the state of local disaster emergency for Johnson County. This action was required so the county could continue to request emergency assistance from the state and federal governments.
The BOCC also voted to support a message from Johnson County Local Public Health Director Dr. Joseph LeMaster and Johnson County Department of Health and Environment Director Dr. Sanmi Areola strongly recommended that Johnson County residents and businesses continue to adhere to the state of Kansas’s plan - Ad Astra: A Plan to Reopen Kansas.
They also approved the creation of a Johnson County guidance plan (effective May 28 and lasting through June 11), reflective of the guidance in Phase 3 of the state’s plan. The county’s guidance plan included expectations, limited mass gatherings to 45, observed physical distancing and sanitation, and reemphasized the doctors’ statements.