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Governor orders Kansas residents to wear masks in public

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) said Monday she is ordering residents to wear masks in public in an effort to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. 

The move will not reimpose restrictions on which businesses are open, but rather will mandate that all Kansans wear masks when in public both indoors and outdoors when a six-foot distance cannot be maintained. 

“When the pandemic first hit, there was mixed messaging about masks. Now the evidence could not be clearer: Wearing a mask is not only safe, but it is necessary to avoid another shutdown,” Kelly said at a press conference. 

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The order will go into effect Friday, just ahead of the Fourth of July, with its official text and details set to be released on Thursday.

“This doesn't change where you can go or what you can do. It just means if you're around other people you must wear a mask,” she said. 

Kelly said that the state is seeing clusters of cases related to “gatherings where masks are not being worn” but not in businesses that are open but require masks, such as barber shops and dental offices. 

“I know this is frustrating, I know we all want it to be over, but we’re still in it, and we’re in it together,” she said. 

The Kansas health department has reported a total of 14,443 coronavirus cases, 1,152 hospitalizations and 270 deaths as of Monday. Kelly said there was an influx of more than 900 new cases over the weekend and six new deaths, according to The Kansas City Star

Many states have already imposed mandatory mask orders. Others experiencing surges — such as Texas and Arizona — have halted reopening plans or reimposed restrictions put in place to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.