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Gov. Kelly asks Trump to extend use of National Guard in Kansas to combat COVID-19

Kansas Army National Guard. (1st Sgt. Mark Hanson/Kansas Army National Guard)

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly has requested federal approval to extend the mobilization of the Kansas National Guard through spring 2021 in an effort to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

In a letter sent to President Donald Trump, Kelly asked that the federal government, including the Office of Management and Budget, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Secretary of Defense, extend funding for up to 500 members of the state’s National Guard through March 31, 2021.

“Our soldiers and airman play a vital role in Kansas’ response to COVID-19,” Kelly said in a Monday news release. “With the president’s approval, this extension will enable Kansas to maintain community-based testing, continue distributing medical and testing supplies, and ensure Kansas businesses can stay open.”

Part of the goal of the request is to keep schools and businesses open, according to the release from the governor’s office.

Kelly in May announced a disaster emergency order that allowed the state to continue receiving federal funding and medical assistance to fight coronavirus. This included the use of National Guard troops to deliver medical equipment and protect food supplies, the governor’s office said at the time.

As of Monday, Kansas ranked 12th in the country for the most new COVID infections per capita over the last week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Kansas confirmed 142,059 cases including 1,456 deaths Monday. There were 896 patients admitted to hospitals statewide and 36% of ICU beds were available. The monthly positive test rate was 19%.

On Wednesday, Kelly announced she was issuing an executive order, which includes a statewide mask mandate and health campaign, to go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on the day before Thanksgiving.

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(c) 2020 The Kansas City Star

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