COVID-19

May 29, 2020 Rice County moves into Phase 3 of reopening Rice County, effective Friday, May 29, 2020. 

May 26, 2019
Governor Laura Kelly vetoes House Bill 2054, which would have limited her emergency powers during the coronavirus pandemic. She's also returning control to reopen to county health authorities as of tomorrow. Governor Kelly is removing the statewide stay-at-home order, Ad Astra, and giving control to each county in the state. The Ad Astra plan will still be given as guidance to each county, but regulations will essentially be up to county officials. Kelly has signed a new state disaster declaration to ensure that Kansas can effectively respond to the current emergency situation, which includes an unprecedented economic emergency and the imminent threat of new outbreaks of COVID-19, specifically regarding food supply. The new declaration will end midnight, June 19.

May 19, 2020
Governor Laura Kelly will sign Executive Order 20-34, moving Kansas into Phase 2 of "Ad Astra: Plan to Reopen Kansas". Phase 2, effective Friday, May 22, 2020 will be modified to include data-driven restrictions necessary to prevent community transmission of COVID-19. View the Governor's update to Ad Astra Reopening Plan. View FAQ on Ad Astra: A Plan to Reopen Kansas. View the Governor's Guidance for a Safe Memorial Day.  For the Rice County Phase 2 Plan, click here. View the Rice County Guidance for a Safe Memorial Day here.

May 18, 2020
The Rice County Courthouse reopens to the public. View the Rice County Courthouse Reopen Plan for further information.

May 14, 2020
Governor Laura Kelly signed Executive Order 20-31, which establishes a new phase to the "Ad Astra: Plan to Reopen Kansas". The new Phase "1.5", effective May 18, 2020, continues reopening efforts but preserves some data-driven restrictions necessary to prevent community transmission of COVID-19. 
The Governor will evaluate the state’s disease spread, testing rates, death rates, hospitalizations, ability of state and local public health authorities to contain outbreaks and conduct contact tracing, and personal protective equipment availability when determining if the state should move to the next “Phase.”  For the Rice County Re-Opening Plan, click here.

May 13, 2020
The Rice County Health Department announces a new case of coronavirus disease attributed to Rice County. The new case involves a man in his early twenties who has not been hospitalized. He is an employee of the prison, and likely contracted the virus due to widespread COVID-19 cases among staff and inmates there. The case belongs to Rice County because the young man's permanent address is here. Rice County Health Department Administrator and Health Officer Marci Detmer wants to inform the communities in Rice County that they are not in increased danger from COVID-19 due to this case. The individual has not visited Rice County in more than a month.

May 5, 2020
The Kansas Corporation Commission approved extending its emergency order suspending utility disconnects for nonpayment until May 31. The action will offer continued relief to those experiencing hardship from the COVID-19 virus. The directive covers all electrical, natural gas, water, and telecommunications utilities under the KCC's jurisdiction.
The Commission's original suspension order was issued on March 16 to expire on April 15. On April 14, Commissioners extended the order to May 15. Today's order runs concurrently with Executive Order 20-28 issued last week by governor Laura Kelly. The Governor's order prohibits utilities, not under the jurisdiction of the KCC, from disconnecting customers until May 31.
The Commission may elect to extend the suspension order in a subsequent order if conditions warrant.

May 4, 2020
The statewide "Stay-home" order expires at midnight. Phase 1 of Ad Astra: A Plan to Reopen Kansas commences starting May 4, 2020 as directed by Executive Order 20-29. A quick guide to the phases may be viewed here.

April 30, 2020
Governor Laura Kelly issues Executive Order 20-29 and outlines a three-phase plan, followed by a phase-out period, for reopening the state after she lifts the stay-at-home order at midnight on Monday, May 4, 2020 and initiates phase one. Phase one includes continuing to limit mass gatherings to 10 or fewer people and maintaining social distancing of at least six feet.  The governor stated that she will evaluate the state's disease spread, testing rates, death rates, hospitalizations, ability of state and local public health officials to contain outbreaks and conduct contact tracing, and availability of personal protective equipment when determining if the state should move to the next phase. If the criteria is favorable, phase two would go into effect no sooner than May 18, 2020.
Under phase one, mass gatherings limited to no more than 10 people. Masks are strongly encouraged in public settings, and people must continue the social distance requirement of six feet. Telework is strongly encouraged and people who are exhibiting symptoms should remain at home. People should avoid or minimize non-essential travel, and follow KDHE travel and quarantine guidelines for travel to high-risk areas.
For the full State Re-Opening plan, click here.
Local governments retain authority to impose equal or more strict restrictions on businesses during this phase. 
For the Rice County Re-Opening Plan, click here.

April 23, 2020
Rice County identifies it's first confirmed positive case of COVID-19. View the news release here.

April 15, 2020
Governor Laura Kelly and Department for Children and Families Secretary Laura Howard today announced the agency will begin issuing an emergency food assistance benefit to current program households. The emergency allotment increases a household's monthly benefit to the maximum allowed for the size of the family. "The federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act allows states to provide this emergency assistance," Howard said. No application is necessary to receive the emergency funds. Families should start to see their March emergency benefit on their EBT card beginning April 15. DCF will distribute April emergency benefits in mid to late May. Those interested in applying for food assistance can visit the DCF website

April 14, 2020
In accordance with recommendations by the KDHE, the Kansas Department of Agriculture, the Rice County Health Department, and the Rice County Emergency Management along with the support of the Rice County Commissioners, Station and Assistant Chiefs of all Rice County fire stations recently applied burn restrictions in Rice County Fire District #1. These restrictions shall remain in effect until further advised and will be evaluated until it is deemed safe for the restricted activities to resume. The burn restrictions can be viewed here.

April 11, 2020
Executive Order 20-16, "Establishing a statewide 'stay-home' order in conjunction with the Kansas Essential Function Framework for COVID-19 response efforts," directs Kansans to stay in their homes to slow the spread of COVID-19 and allows Kansans to leave their homes only to perform an "essential activity." Executive Order 20-18, "Temporarily prohibiting mass gatherings of more than 10 people to limit the spread of COVID-19 and rescinding Executive Order 20-14," addresses when and under what circumstances restaurants or bars may exceed the mass gathering limit of no more than 10 people in an enclosed or confined space. This guidance clarifies that dine-in service at restaurants and bars is not an essential function or activity and therefore remains prohibited notwithstanding any language in Executive Order 20-18. This guidance clarifies whether and under what conditions certain activities are essential.

April 9, 2020
K-State Research and Extension will continue its suspension of all face-to-face extension programs, meetings and events through July 4, 2020.  This includes events such as Discovery Days, 4-H Camps, Shooting Sports Matches, and district horse and dog shows. This does not include county fairs. 

March 28, 2020
Governor Laura Kelly has issued a statewide stay-at-home order effective March 30, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. and runs until at least April 19, 2020. She says the order means Kansans should stay home unless they're going to get food, household necessities, medical care or other essential services. Executive Order #20-16 can be viewed here. Executive Order #20-15 establishes the Kansas Essential Function Framework for COVID-19 response efforts.

March 24, 2020
Governor Laura Kelly signed today executive orders #20-10, #20-11, #20-12, and #20-13, as part of her administration's comprehensive response to the COVID-19 pandemic. "The safety and well-being of Kansans is my top priority," Kelly said. "During these trying times we need essential services to continue to function to secure our public safety and health. We also need some leniency when it comes to deadlines. These executive orders are necessary steps to help Kansas Families during this crisis."
Executive Order #20-10 - Kelly rescinded Executive Order #20-06 and replaced it with Executive Order #20-10, which temporarily prohibits certain foreclosures and evictions. It explicitly requires that a financial hardship indirectly or directly caused by COVID-19 be the reason a homeowner or renter can't make payments. In addition, no landlords can evict a residential tenant when all defaults or violations of the rental agreement are cause by financial hardships due to COVID-19. These measures are especially important because housing disruption inhibits the ability of the state and local communities to effectively respond to COVID-19 and the public health dangers it presents.
Executive Order #20-11 - Kelly signed Executive Order #20-11, which prevents all Kansas waste removal providers, trash and recycling, from canceling or suspending commercial or residential waste or recycling removal services for Kansas residences and businesses as a result of nonpayment due to significant loss of income or increase in expenses resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Ensuring that waste and recycling services continue is essential to maintaining public health, especially when personal hygiene and staying at home are the primary methods for slowing the spread of COVID-19.
Executive Order #20-12 - Kelly signed Executive Order #20-12, extending deadlines for driver's license and vehicle registration renewals and regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic. All driver's license renewals and vehicle registrations extended by this Executive Order must be completed within 60 days of the expirations of Executive Order #20-12. Many Kansans may be unable to renew their driver's license or vehicle registration during this time, but delivery drivers and other critical employees must be able to continue critical operations and drive without fear of licensing or registration issues.
Executive Order #20-13 - Kelly signed Executive Order #20-13, extending tax filing deadlines to July 15, 2020, and waiving any interest and penalties for returns and payments made on or before July 15, 2020. In the event the State of Disaster Emergency originally proclaimed on March 12, 2020, is lifted or expires prior to July 15, 2020, the Department of Revenue shall continue to exercise appropriate discretion to make effective the waivers of penalties and interest for payments made up to July 15, 2020. This order is intended to bring Kansas' tax filing procedures in line with federal IRS measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

March 23, 2020
Governor Laura Kelly announced new measures to protect Kansas families from the spread of COVID-19. On Tuesday, Governor Kelly will issue an Executive Order limiting mass gatherings to 10 persons. Rice County Commissioners close the Courthouse to the public. The Rice County Health Department advises "Please stay home. Please. As the Surgeon General said, we *all* need to live as if we already have this virus in order to stop the spread—not out of fear but out of wisdom and respect for each other. We CAN do this. Of course there are people who still have to work; to care for those we love and to keep all of us safe. But so, so many of us can stay home and need to. The longer we resist, the longer this lasts. STAY. HOME."

March 20, 2020
Effective at 5 p.m., until further notice, all Courthouse offices will be locked. Access into the public areas of the courthouse will be through the South entrance only. There will be signs at that entrance with phone numbers for each courthouse department. You should call them to get instructions on how to proceed with services needed. View the Rice County Containment Plan here.


March 19, 2020
 KDHE received the following information concerning Wal-Mart stores.

Store Operating Hours
-- Walmart U.S. stores will adjust operating hours to 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Stores that open later than 7 a.m. will continue their regular starting hours. This will further help associates restock the shelves for customers while continuing to clean and sanitize the store. While the store hours change for customers, our associates will continue to have access to their regular scheduled shifts and full hours.
Special Shopping Hours:
-- We know our older customers could be more vulnerable to the coronavirus and to better support them, Walmart is offering special shopping hours. From March 24 through April 28, Walmart stores will host an hour-long senior shopping event every Tuesday for customers aged 60 and older. This will start one hour before the store opens. Our Pharmacies and Vision Centers will also be open during this time.
Item Limitations:
-- We know communities are counting on us more than ever and we are determined to serve the broadest number of customers and ensure they have access to the key items they are looking for. Our stores will have limits for customers in certain categories including paper products, milk, eggs, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, water, diapers, wipes, formula and baby food.

Essential Services:
-- Our people are working hard to have every part of the store ready to serve customers. To help support our people and focus on the most critical areas of the store right now, we will temporarily shut down our Auto Care Centers to allow those associates to focus on stocking and cleaning in the rest of the store.

 -- Also, our Vision Centers will operate on their normal schedule, providing essential services only such as glasses repair and helping customers pick up existing orders. We will have at least one associate to serve the needs of our Vision Care customers, while the other associates will help in the rest of the store.

March 18, 2020 KDHE issues new mandates surround COVID-19, including travelers, close contacts of confirmed cases, and those being tested. KDHE is mandating 14-day home quarantine for Kansans who have:

  • Traveled to a state with known widespread community transmission on or after March 15.
  • Visited Eagle, Summit, Pitkin, and Gunnison counties in Colorado in the week prior to March 15 or after.
  • Traveled on a cruise ship or river cruise on or after March 15.
  • Traveled internationally on or after March 15.
  • Received notification from public health officials that you are a close contact of a laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19. You should quarantine at home for 14 days since your last contact with the case. (Close contact is defined as someone who has been closer than 6 feet for more than 10 minutes while the patient is symptomatic.)

March 17, 2020 Rice County Health Department Director, Marci Detmer issued the following statement:
"In the near future it is likely that further action will be necessary to protect the health and safety of the residents of Rice County, slow the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak and reduce the number of people infected.  In keeping with this, if the presence of COVID-19 becomes apparent in our county, the Rice County Courthouse will be closed to the public.  Doors will remain locked to all but employees and elected officials.  Departments in the courthouse will continue to assist customers through phone calls and emails.  At the time closure of the courthouse is determined to be a prudent decision, this information will be posted on the Rice County website, the Health Department Facebook page and the courthouse doors.  To reduce possible spread of disease, please complete as much of your county business as possible by phone or online. "

On March 16, 2020 Kansas banned public gatherings of 50 people or more for the next two months. Governor Kelly also blocked utilities in Kansas from cutting off services until mid-April. Then, on March 17, 2020 Governor Kelly ordered K-12 schools closed for the rest of the academic school year. “The reality of this pandemic is that it cannot be controlled statewide if school buildings return to normal operations or if they respond inconsistently within our local communities,” Kelly said at a news conference. “Unprecedented circumstances threaten the safety of our students and the professionals who work with them every day.” Additionally, Gov. Kelly announces effective Monday, March 23, 2020 all state offices will be closed for two weeks.

On March 11, 2020 the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. On March 12, 2020, Kansas governor Laura Kelly issued an emergency declaration for the State of Kansas in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Then on March 13, 2020 President Donald Trump declares a national emergency to deal with the coronavirus crisis as cases increase at a rapid rate.


COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. 

People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. This is why it is important to stay more than 3 feet away from a person who is sick.