MISSION, Kan. (AP) — One day after a federal judge struck a blow against Gov. Laura Kelly’s executive order limiting religious services to 10 worshipers, a Kansas pastor spoke to three times as many people in his pews and asked in a prayer for what he called a hedge of protection around them and others tuning in via livestream.
Calvary Baptist Church pastor Aaron Harris didn’t directly address U.S. District Judge John Broomes’ ruling. The ruling prevents the enforcement of Kelly's order against Harris' church in Junction City in northeast Kansas and First Baptist Church in Dodge City in western Kansas.
Besides the 30 people in attendance in Junction City, 26 were in attendance at the Dodge City church, said the Christian-founded and conservative Alliance for Defending Freedom, which was involved in the case.
The churches were ordered to follow extra safety protocols, including offering extra hand sanitizer and not passing offering plates. Police didn't immediately return phone messages about whether there were any violations.
The ruling by Broomes, who is based in Wichita, will remain in effect until May 2. A hearing is scheduled Thursday in the lawsuit filed against Kelly by the two churches and their pastors, on whether he should issue a longer-term or broader injunction.
House Minority Leader, Rep. Tom Sawyer said the ruling “may be putting churchgoers at further risk of contracting COVID-19."
Statewide, confirmed coronavirus cases increased Sunday by 59 to 1,849. The number of deaths increased by six to 92
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness and death.
NURSING HOME DEATH
Nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities have been hit particularly hard in the outbreak.
The Clearwater Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in the Wichita area announced Saturday in a news release that a second resident has died. At least 11 people, including two staff members, have been infected at the facility.
The state's largest cluster is at a Kansas City, Kansas, rehabilitation facility where the death toll rose to 19 last week.
Kelly and Kansas legislators expect to get their first real look Monday at how much the economic harm from the coronavirus pandemic could squeeze the state budget. State officials, legislative researchers and university economists plan to issue a new fiscal forecast for state government that is expected to be more pessimistic than the current one.
They’ll revise the state’s projections for tax collections, and they’re widely expected to decrease them. From the start of the current 2020 budget year in July through March, the state’s tax collections still were running 3.2% ahead of expectations, but the economic dislocation associated with the pandemic had yet to be felt.
REOPENING THE ECONOMY
The Kansas Chamber of Commerce released a plan Sunday for reopening the economy. It calls for allowing nonessential businesses to open if they are able to do things like boost cleaning of common area, provide sick employees time off flexibility and set up employee self-temperature monitoring.
The plan also said that health status of geographic regions should be taken into consideration and that there should be specific protections for the most vulnerable based on age and/or health status.