TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A state Supreme Court ruling means Kansas religious services were limited to 10 people or fewer on Easter, typically the busiest day for Christian church attendance.
Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly on Sunday said she was “forced” to include places of worship in her bans on gatherings of more than 10 people amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“My top priority has always been the safety and well-being of all Kansans,” Kelly said in a statement. ““I know this pandemic is extremely hard for everyone.”
A Republican-dominated legislative panel tried to overturn Kelly’s executive order banning larger religious and funeral services. But the state Supreme Court on Saturday ruled in Kelly’s favor.
Republican state Senate President Susan Wagle said Kelly's order shuttering church buildings shows that she has “misplaced priorities.”
Some churches defied Kelly’s order Sunday. Pastor Aaron Harris of Calvary Baptist Church in Junction City said about 21 people attended his Easter service in a church that usually seats 300, The Wichita Eagle reported.
The Rev. Scott Hanks of Heritage Baptist Church declined to say how many people attended in-person services on Easter, but around 40 cars were parked at the Lawrence church. Hanks told the Lawrence Journal World that attendees followed social distancing guidelines.
The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state grew Sunday by 69, to 1,337. Kansas also reported another death, bringing the total to 56.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.