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Another mask mandate ends
Kansas death count attributed to COVID-19 tops 8,000
covid-19 Barton

Fifteen new deaths attributed to COVID-19 on Wednesday pushed the statewide total to 8,003. Governor Laura Kelly’s office acknowledged the grim count by ordering flags across Kansas to fly at half-staff in honor of the more than 8,000 lives lost due to COVID-19 and the families they left behind.

Meanwhile, the number of new cases continues to drop.

Great Bend USD 428 Superintendent Khris Thexton said masks are no longer required on district school buses, now that the Kansas State Department of Education has rescinded a 2021 order requiring them.

Great Bend USD 428 dropped its mask mandate at the end of the 2020-2021 school year but the KSDE order required all students, pre-K through 12th grade, as well as staff, to wear face masks while riding on school buses or any other form of school transportation carrying two or more people.

That requirement was lifted last week, Thexton told the school board Monday.

“We are good not to wear masks in district vehicles any more.”

During that meeting, held March 7, Thexton noted that the first COVID-19 case in Kansas was reported two years earlier, almost to the day. “Two years we’ve been fighting this.”

Thexton also said the district has zero active COVID-19 cases to report last Friday. On Monday, there was one active case reported, at Great Bend Middle School.


As of 9 a.m. Wednesday, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment reports there have been 768,422 COVID-19 cases, resulting in 19,627 hospitalizations and 8,003 statewide deaths. There were 552 new cases, 57 new hospitalizations and 15 new deaths reported since Monday, March 7.

Here are the area case numbers as of 9 a.m. Wednesday, with any change since Monday:

• Barton 6,480 (+2) 

• Ellsworth 2,012 (+0)

• Pawnee 2,119 (+1)

• Rice 2,601 (+3)

• Rush 808 (+0)

• Russell 1,872 (+1)

• Stafford 1,134 (+0)

Area deaths

Here are the COVID-related death totals for area counties as of 9 a.m. Wednesday. There have been no new deaths reported since Feb. 16.

• Barton 86 

• Ellsworth 31

• Pawnee 23

• Rice 22 

• Rush 18

• Russell 36 

• Stafford 26


The Great Bend Tribune also reports on COVID-19-related hospitalizations in Barton, Pawnee and Stafford counties. These were unchanged Wednesday.