A mandatory face mask policy and restrictions on restaurants and bars in Sedgwick County will continue for at least another month.
Sedgwick County Health Officer Dr. Garold Minns issued a new health order Wednesday that maintains policies that have been in place since early November.
Capacity limits and the 11 p.m. curfew continue for restaurants, bars and social venues. Businesses such as fitness centers and events that attract large crowds must cap attendance at 100 people or 50% capacity, whichever is less.
Minns says limiting gatherings to fewer than 25 people is still necessary to help reduce the coronavirus infection rate.
“The virus is out there, it’s still circulating," he said. "By far, 90% of us are still susceptible to it, and if we relax too much the virus is going to take advantage of that."
Sedgwick County had about 13,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases at the start of November. As of Wednesday, the cumulative count reached 33,590 cases. The county’s percent positive test rate reached a record 22% in mid-November; this week, it was about 13%.
Minns says he’s encouraged by the downward trend in the positivity rate, but he’s concerned a surge could come from the holidays.
“We need to see what that does to the numbers, so that’s one reason I’m being a little cautious before we lift any of the restrictions,” Minns said. “We have had two major holidays and I think we have seen some increases in cases just in the last few days because of that.”
Wichita hospitals remain on critical status with a high number of COVID-19 patients. The county’s weekly update posted Monday listed 216 people being treated for COVID-19, with 70 patients in intensive care units.
The hospitals have been using contingency operations since November.
Sedgwick County legal officials say the county received more than 400 reports of potential health order violations. At least six citations have been issued to date. Fines of up to $500 are possible.
The health order is in effect through Feb. 6.