More than 60 members of the Kansas Legislature, both Republicans and Democrats, signed a letter urging more Kansans to respond to the COVID-19 health crisis by wearing a mask and adhering to other public safety recommendations.

Area legislators are joining in the push to curb the spread of COVID-19 as the state reaches a “tipping point” in the pandemic.

Reps. Sydney Carlin, D-Manhattan, Suzi Carlson, R-Clay Center, Lonnie Clark, R-Junction City, and Tom Phillips, R-Manhattan, and Sen. Tom Hawk, D-Manhattan signed a bipartisan letter along with 58 other state representatives and senators as a call to action.

In the letter issued Thursday, the legislators pushed for Kansans to wear masks, wash their hands, stay home as much as possible and keep physical distance from others.

“While the news about vaccines gives us all hope, we must take steps NOW to bend the curve, curtail widespread community transmission and ultimately decrease hospitalizations so that care is available for all,” the letter says.

November represented the worst month of the pandemic for the nation with a surge in cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

By the end of November, Riley County recorded 41% of its total coronavirus cases — 3,709 at that point — during the month. On Friday, the county reported 125 new cases for a total of 3,905 since the pandemic started in March. Of those, 388 are active, 3,501 have recovered and 16 people have died.

Since Wednesday, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported 6,234 new cases, 127 hospitalizations and 107 deaths statewide. Since the start of the pandemic, KDHE has recorded a total of 168,295 cases, 5,417 hospitalizations and 1,786 deaths.

The legislators’

full letter

We come together united as state legislators, Republicans and Democrats, state senators, and state representatives with this important message. We have reached a tipping point in the battle with COVID-19. If widespread community transmission continues to increase, our hospitals will be unable to meet the health care needs of Kansans across the state. We need people to change their behaviors and act fast to curb the spread because our status quo is not working and the implications are dire.

This is not a COVID-19 crisis. This is a health care crisis. This holiday season, the greatest kindness you can give to your loved ones is doing your part to preserve their health. Wear your mask; wash your hands; stay home as much as possible; and keep your distance. Lives depend on it.

As we enter the winter months, cases continue to rise and without action, this will continue. It is critical we reignite a sense of duty and ownership to do all we can to slow the spread of this virus to protect the health and safety of individuals and their loved ones. While we cannot change the hearts and minds of everyone, we each can take personal responsibility to make changes that will ultimately be lifesaving.

We are united in our message:

• While the news about vaccines gives us all hope, we must take steps NOW to bend the curve, curtail widespread community transmission and ultimately decrease hospitalizations so that care is available for all

• We support the efforts across our region and Kansas to take additional steps to practice the pillars of infection prevention. We support wearing masks; washing of hands; avoiding large social gatherings; and keeping appropriate social distance. Lives depend on all of us practicing these behaviors

• Masking guidelines are a critical step forward in this crisis moment

• As your elected officials, we join to double down on our efforts – we know this is hard and you are tired – but it is more important than ever

• We need positive responses to these “calls to action” to ensure we have a safe holiday season for “ALL”

It has been a long and hard 2020 and COVID-19 has affected all of us. As we approach the New Year there is great hope. But we are still months away from turning the corner on this pandemic. We all need to find the will and discipline to finish this fight.

We the undersigned commit to promoting and practicing the pillars of infection control and doing our part to slow and eventually stop the spread of the virus. We respectfully request you to join us in this fight.

Let us make this a happy and safe holiday season for all of our families, friends, and neighbors.