Kelly issues executive orders to improve health care access

Gov. Laura Kelly, Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas residents will be able to get medicine without an in-person visit to the doctor during the coronavirus crisis under a new executive order that Gov. Laura Kelly announced Sunday.

Kelly, a Democrat, announced two new orders aimed at temporarily expanding health care access. She said in a statement that the orders “will make sure Kansas families can access needed care and supplies until we have weathered this storm.”

Sixty-four cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, are now confirmed in Kansas. They include two deaths. One was announced in Johnson County on Saturday. The state’s first death from the virus, a nursing home resident in Wyandotte County, was reported March 12. Johnson and Wyandotte counties, both in suburban Kansas City, account for 42 of the 64 cases in Kansas.

The Kansas City Star reported that the Johnson County victim was Dennis Wilson of Lenexa, a retired school superintendent in his 70s.

“The fight is over,” Joanna Wilson, his wife, wrote on Facebook Saturday evening. “I am absolutely heartbroken! It has been an indescribably horrible week of immeasurable suffering on the part of the love of my life and then certainly on the part of our three children and our 6 grandchildren who could only watch helplessly from a distance.”

One of Kelly’s new orders allows doctors to prescribe medicine without an in-person visit, including out-of-state doctors.

“Expanding the use of telemedicine for nonemergency-related assessments like routine checkups and prescribing medication frees up additional time, resources and physical space in our hospitals and clinics,” Kelly said.

The second order eases motor carrier rules and regulations such as weight restrictions. Kelly said the goal is to allow for quicker delivery of resources to address the pandemic.

For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

Also Sunday, the Kansas Department of Revenue announced that all 116 driver’s license office locations will close for 14 days from Monday through April 6. Some online services will still be available for things such as license renewals, Zach Fletcher, spokesman for the department, told the Star.

On Saturday, residents in the Kansas City area, including those in Wyandotte and Johnson counties in northeastern Kansas, were told they would be under a stay-at-home order starting Tuesday for anything other than “essential needs.” Essential needs include child care, health care, grocery stores, pharmacies and delivery, carry-out and drive-thru services from restaurants.

The St. Louis area in Missouri and the states of Illinois, New York and California have also implemented stay-at-home orders.

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The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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