The Finney County Commission held a special meeting Wednesday to decide on a course of action on reopening the county after Gov. Laura Kelly’s Stay-At-Home executive order expires on May 3.

The commission voted 4-1, with Commissioner William Clifford dissenting, that following the expiration of the order to allow Finney County businesses to open their doors at their own discretion in accordance with mandates from the state and special attention to safety practices appropriate for their business.

Colleen Drees, Finney County Health Department director, and Lindsay Byrnes, Finney County medical director, advised against reopening the county.

Drees said Finney County is just now starting to see a significant increase in positive cases.

“The suggestion and recommendation to you to take into consideration is to consider extending the current order for about two more weeks because we're just not there yet, we are just starting to see a pretty good increase,” she said.

Since opening the COVID-19 drive-through testing center at the Finney County Fairgrounds last Monday, they have increased their testing from 55 tests per day to 150 tests per day, and are looking to increase that to 160, Drees said.

The numbers have tripled and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment has now allowed them to widen the pool of people they can test when investigating the people under investigation. They no longer have to have a fever, they just have to have symptoms on the list.

Byrnes said the county is in a critical time, they need to be vigilant.

“If you look at these case numbers, we look at the positivity rate of our testing and we are on the sharp upswing of our cases,” she said. “Please understand at this time these positive tests are indicating active disease, these are people who have active disease, no matter their degree of symptom.”

COVID-19 is contagious and lethal and there is a limited number of tools to combat it, Byrnes said. There are no treatments, the only options are supportive care and social distancing.

“For the citizens of Finney County, to give (the Stay-At-Home order) two more weeks,” she said. “We are in the thick of it, please, we have sacrificed so much to this point, I really, it would be just terrible to sacrifice all that we have to give up now at the time the data is showing that we are in the most critical time.”

Commissioner William Clifford made a motion to extend the Stay-At-Home order in the county for up to one week after the governor’s executive order ends.

The motion failed, 3-2, with Clifford and Commissioner Duane Drees dissenting.