The state government is “strongly encouraging” owners not to burning their land this spring.

That recommendation is being issued to help reduce the strain on the medical system, already facing the coronavirus pandemic virus that attacks the respiratory system.

“With the potential for this pandemic overwhelming the state’s medical facilities, any additional respiratory concerns that could be produced from breathing smoke from prescribed fire need to be mitigated,” Dr. Lee Norman, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said in a news release issued Thursday.

Common health problems related to smoke from pasture-burning can include burning eyes, runny nose, coughing and illnesses such as bronchitis.

Individuals with respiratory issues, including COVID-19, pre-existing heart or lung diseases, children and the elderly may experience worse symptoms than other people.

With resources of the county emergency response staff already being taxed with COVID-19 response, the KDHE and the state Department of Agriculture said it is important to minimize responses that would come with prescribed fire activity.

“Prescribed burning is a valuable land management tool in the efforts to fight invasive species and maximize land productivity, and this request should not be interpreted as an indictment of the practice of burning,” Secretary of Agriculture Mike Beam said. “However, the circumstances surrounding the coronavirus pandemic have created a situation that calls for reducing burned acres this spring.”