Laura Kelly, Kansas Governor, is determined to end the COVID-19 pandemic that began Friday.
A news release from the Governor’s Office Thursday says the Kansas Department of Health and Environment is beginning the transition from pandemic to endemic response. This shift will include a pivot from emergency response measures to “our new normal” which entails learning to live with the virus as a common “recurring disease” similar to the flu.
Jennifer Millbern, Lyon County Public Health Emergency Preparedness Director, believes that now is the right time to move on to the next chapter in the COVID saga.
Millbern said that the transition to the endemic stage does not mean that we should forget about COVID-19.
KDHE’s endemic plan will address six key areas, intervention, vaccination, treatment, testing, monitoring and communication, to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all Kansans. You can find the full news release from the Governor’s Office below:
Governor Laura Kelly Announces Transition into COVID-19 Endmic Response
“Kansas shifts to a new normal after an emergency pandemic response”
TOPEKAGovernor Laura Kelly and Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), today announced their continued efforts in shifting to the next chapter of COVID-19 response. This will pivot from emergency pandemic response towards endemic normalcy. KDHE will make changes starting April 1st to continue the transition from emergency to our new normal. This includes life with COVID-19. It is similar to how we deal in the future with other recurring illnesses like the flu. KDHE will continue using the lessons learned in the past two year to ensure that the State can be prepared for future surges and other needs.
“Kansas is continuing the transition to a new phase of understanding and living with COVID-19, Governor Laura Kelly said. While we are aware that the pandemic may not be over, we now have all the information and tools available to prevent or reduce the spread. We are normalizing COVID-19 responses and incorporating these lessons in our larger efforts to improve health outcomes and health outcomes for all Kansans. This includes work with multiple diseases and awareness of risk factors.
This decision comes at a time when current COVID-19 metrics are moving forward. KDHE has made significant strides in keeping Kansas communities safe over the past two years with the support of partners across the State. Over 7 million tests were performed, more than 4 million vaccines were administered, and 78% of eligible Kansans received at least one dose.
In this new normal, we will ensure Kansans have access to lifesaving vaccines, treatments, and tests. This does not mean COVID has ended, but we are working to manage it in a way which allows us to live a normal, happy life, surrounded by loved ones, Janet Stanek, KDHE Secretary.
KDHEs endemic plans, in collaboration with LHDs and other stakeholders, address six key areas that are intended to ensure safety and well-being for all Kansans.
Intervention: KDHE will continue providing comprehensive guidance and additional assistance to vulnerable populations.
Vaccination: KDHE will make sure that vulnerable populations have access the COVID-19 vaccine, while existing vaccine providers (including pharmacists, hospitals, health care providers, and LHDs) will continue to serve the larger population.
Treatment: KDHE will continue ensuring Kansans can receive COVID-19 treatment in the State. This is because treatment distribution shifts from public health entities to local healthcare providers.
Testing: KDHE will support free testing throughout the state through community sites, LHDs and K-12 schools, as long as federal funds are available. Federally Qualified Health Centers in the state and pharmacies throughout the state also receive testing support from the federal government. To find a free testing location near you, go to knowbeforeyougoKS.com. KDHE testing support in Long Term Care Facilities will end on May 15, 2022. Testing support to employers will cease on June 30, 2022.
Monitoring: KDHE will continue monitoring data reported by facilities and organizations across the state in order to understand the status and to proactively identify at-risk individuals and groups. Public reporting will be reduced from once per week to one.
Communications: KDHE continues to provide vital and easily accessible information about COVID to Kansans in order to keep them safe, and to inform them of any changes to COVID-19 response plans.
KDHE will continue to be prepared to respond to any surges in each of the areas mentioned.