Ad Astra: A Plan to Reopen Kansas

The first coronavirus case made its way into Riley County, Kansas on March 20, 2020. According to the Riley County Health Department on August 6, 2020  there are a total of 465 cases, with 5 deaths. As of July 2023, Kansas' total number of coronavirus cases is 946,564, with 10,229 deaths.

In a press conference held in Topeka, Kansas on April, 30, 2020 Governor Laura Kelly presented her framework for a safe re-opening of Kansas' economy and getting the people of Kansas back to work. Her framework, “Ad Astra: A Plan to Reopen Kansas” follows a five week statewide stay-home order that was necessary in slowing the spread of COVID-19. Phase One went into order on Monday, May 4, 2020, because of the statewide stay-home being officially lifted.

From March 20th through the end of August, I worked on the front lines as a photojournalist, documenting the city of Manhattan, equipped with a face mask and gloves everyday. In the wake of a pandemic, some peoples lives came to a halt. For myself and other journalists in my newsroom it has been our job to document Manhattan during these times; showing the hard work of those essential workers who are putting their lives on the line.

“I am incredibly proud of how the people of Kansas met the moment and answered the call to hunker down,” Governor Kelly said. “It has been a difficult time that has taken a painful toll … financially, emotionally, physically, spiritually and professionally on Kansans,” Kelly said. “But because Kansans took this seriously, COVID-19 has inflicted far less devastation on Kansas than it did in other states."

Healthcare workers clap and celebrate as Lisiana Lucios Micky is wheeled to the exit of Ascension Via Christi Hospital by Nell Shafer after spending 47 days in the hospital fighting against coronavirus

Kimberly Young, a peri-operative nurse at Ascension Via Christi Hospital, stands outside in the hospitals courtyard. Young has been working as a nurse for 32 years. “My main challenge has been making sure to communicate well with the family while their family members are having a surgery because it’s so important when they don’t actually get to physically be here,” said Young. “So, I try and make it feel like they’re here even though they’re not,” she added.

Melinda Campbell, a postal worker at the United Stated Postal Service, stands in the warehouse after scanning packages. Campbell has been a postal worker for 5 years at the Manhattan post office. “We’re incredibly proud of the heroic efforts from all of our employees as we continue to keep the nation and the work connected and moving forward through this crisis,” said Mark Inglett, Strategic Communication Specialist at USPS.

From left, Victoria Bowman, Jaci Sump and Kaimey Evans holds out their wrists with their rainbow bands bracelets on. The girls made the bracelets to raise enough money to buy lunch for Riley County health care workers.

Alison Bjerke-Harvey, part owner of Piccalilli Farm, grabs a bunch of green onions and places them into a bag that is going out for a Farm to Porch delivery order. “We’ve got 120 orders this week and we had 60 last week,” said Alison.

Shelia Prince grabs her Farm to Porch delivery order that Kevin Porter dropped off.

Pastor Paul Barkey leads everyone in prayer outside of Ashland Community Church. Jeff Ruckert, an auctioneer who is out of work because of the coronavirus, let the church use his sound system for their drive in church. This is the sixth week in a row Ashland Community Church has held a drive in service. Each week there are new comers who would rather attend the drive in than watch a live stream of their local church’s Sunday service. “Normally we go to Rock Hills Church but, they are online now,” said Paul Nickel. “We crave being around people on Sunday morning. We miss that fellowship,” added Nickel.

Jan Barkey plays the piano in Ashland Community Church after Sunday’s service. 

Hank and Vivian Ruckert pray in the car the end of Sunday’s service at Ashland Community Church.

Dee Green, employee at Hy-Vee, stands in the entrance of the store with the carts she’s cleaned. Come August, Green will have been working at Hy-Vee for 6 years. “It’s different you know, there’s a big pandemic right now so I’ve been doing what I can to keep everybody safe by keeping the carts clean,” said Green.

The toilet paper aisle at Dillon’s West Loop has been restocked with Scott and Quilted Northern after shelves were left empty due people stocking up on supplies during the coronavirus pandemic.

A truck drives past a wood pallet outside of Dillon’s that reads, “Keep in mind while your over shopping today, there is a family staying at the M.E.C.I. that could use some eggs! God Bless!” 

From left, Jackie Smith, Eric Lubrano and James Mullins carry their food from the Flint Hills Breadbasket to the bus stop. Smith and Lubrano moved back to Manhattan from West Virginia in February and got jobs at McDonald’s and Early Edition. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Smith and Lubrano have been laid off of their jobs for the time being.

The Little Apple Veterinary Hospital sign reads, “Thank you healthcare workers!”

The Manhattan Self Storage sign on Fort Riley Boulevard reads, “Store your extra toilet paper with us!”

Local Health Officer Julie Gibbs issues Order No. 3 which is a Stay at Home Order that will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, March 29.

Families stand on the corner of Grand Mere Parkway in Colbert Hills and wave as teachers from Bergman Elementary School drive by in a parade.

From left, Anthony Upchurch, David Upchurch and Ember Upchurch, a kindergartener, wave as teachers from Bergman Elementary drive by their home.

The license plate of a teacher at Bergman Elementary reads “GR8TCHR”.

From right, Sutton Weixelman and her dog Raplhie, Peyton Weixelman and Mindy Weixelman watch as teachers from Bergman Elementary drive by during the parade.

Steve Pfister asks Andrew Adams, a Riley County Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, questions about certain coronavirus statistics he’s heard in the news.

Microbiologist II David George uses a pipette and tests protease inhibitor assays to see if they can inhibit and modify viral enzymes while at K-State’s Veterinary Health Center.

K-State employees throw away trash that was sitting outside of the Jardine apartment complex where K-State study abroad students from Italy are staying.

Gloves from K-State employees sit in the dumpster after they had thrown trash away from the K-State students who are under quarantine in Jardine apartments.

Carla Martinez-Machain talks to her friend Kristina Kennedy while wearing a face shield and drinking her cocktail on the patio at Pool House Kitchen & Bar.

Douglas Haverkamp, Market President for Central National Bank’s Manhattan location, looks out the window in the conference room. Haverkamp has been working as the Market President at Central National Bank in Manhattan since 2012. “We’ve been working eight, nine, ten hour days and constantly the phones been ringing off the wall because the local businesses are naturally concerned for what the future holds,” said Haverkamp.

Anthony Allen sits alone in the Manhattan Regional Airport. Allen stated that he is heading home to Tennessee to be with family.

Tallgrass Tap House is currently taking carryout orders and has a deal for $5 off your first online or mobile order of $20 or more.

Empty seats at Tointon Baseball Stadium.

Tointon Baseball Stadium will be empty throughout the rest of the semester after K-State announced the cancellation of all Spring sports.

Kyle Powers uses a straw to drink Corona beer through his face mask while sharing a beer next to James Salyers at O’Malley’s.

Kyle Powers tips his Corona beer while on the “It’s the End of The World St. Paddy’s Day Pub Crawl” hosted by Jamie Coones, owner of Poo Squad.

Kyle Powers holds out a face mask for Malissa Bourbina after she sneezes while at O’Malley’s.

An orange fence surround the playground at City Park due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Chris Siegle, Manager at Arlan's Fine Wines and Spirits, takes inventory while sitting behind the counter. Siegle has been manager at Arlan’s for 6 months. “Where we’re located, just being here nestled in with the hotels, we’ve lost a lot of the hotel business,” said Siegle.

Hunter Carter, a gas station attendant at Shell, cleans and disinfects the pumps. Carter has been working at Shell on Bluemont Avenue for 1 year. “It (coronavirus) gives me a little bit of anxiety just because anyone can really have it and I’m put on the front lines. I’m a little more vulnerable than most people,” said Carter.

Seth Trojcak, employee at O &S Cleaning Solutions, agitates the surface of the carts that have been washed with sodium hypochlorite.

From right, Julian Jones, Chardae Greenlee, and Evelyn Pittman holding her daughter Ariyah Pittman stand together during Sunday morning service at the Manhattan Christian Fellowship Church.

Pastor JahVelle Rhone read a passage from the Bible, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners.”

Ebony Haliburton gives Regina Martin some hand sanitizer after the service ended at the Manhattan Christian Fellowship Church.

Jessica Malia, an employee with Laundry Love, talks to Mike Jones while sitting behind the sign in table outside of Suds Y’r Duds. Laundry Love takes place on the second Tuesday of every month. The extended hours from 3-9 pm on Tuesday was to try and spread out the laundromat customers due to the coronavirus pandemic.

From left, Taylor Vandeloo, Brooklin Stoddard, Baylee Hogan, Alyssa Jones and Courtney Kipp are thanked by Jennifer Goehring outside of Ascension Via Christi Hospital before traveling to Chicago and Indianapolis to assist in battling COVID-19.

From left, Nicole Helms and Sonia Mareno watch as Alyssa Jones, Baylee Hogan, Taylor Vandeloo, Brooklin Stoddard, Baylee Hogan and Courtney Kipp talk to reporters outside of Ascension Via Christi Hospital. 

John and April Stoddard hold a sign that reads, “Thank You Brooklin, We Love You” for their daughter Brooklin Stoddard, outside Ascension Via Christi Hospital.

Michelle Vassar dances to “Little Red Corvette” in her car while Jackie Tweed puts hamburger buns in her passenger seat at the Harvesters Community Food Drive.

Brooke Snyder gives Corabelle Stamey (middle) to-go lunches while Iris Stamey (middle right) wraps her arms around Corabelle outside of Woodrow Wilson Elementary School.

Lisa Fang and Jacob Stone watch the delivery truck driver move a pallet of rice into the Asian Market.

Jacob Stone walks down an aisle at the Asian Market with food to restock shelves.

Fanny Fang’s mother, Mama Fang, restocks fresh vegetables at the Asian Market.

Mackenzie Klebe hands Joan Jones a bag of produce from Britt's Garden Acres at the Farmers Market. “I haven’t been out at all,” said Jones. “I figured since this is outside, it would be safe to go out at 8 a.m.,” Jones added.

Brianna Britt, 8, puts on a pair of gloves while standing behind the Britt’s Garden Acres vendor table at the Farmers Market.

Dan Richards says hi to Kim Franz’s dogs, Mackenzie, front seat, and Niko, in the backseat, outside Keating and Associates during their drive up food service they provided for clients and associates.

Zoe Abner (left) and Jamie Abner (right) sit on the couch in their home wearing masks they’ve made. Jamie, 45, and Zoe, 20, of Riley and Manhattan, respectively, started My Madre and Me, a small homemade craft business, more than five years ago when they found a space at Eclectic Charm on Fort Riley Boulevard.

Joe Gerken, owner of Flint Hills Moving, drops off a Flint Hills Moving Box, instructions, coloring pages, crayons and a MakeDo Saw, ScruDriver and Screws from ieDiscoveries for people that have signed up for the program.

From left, Peter Durrett, 7, and Thomas Durrett, 9, run outside pick up their Flint Hills Moving Box that can be made into an airplane. “We have four kids and we’ve been needing something to do,” said Christine Durrett.

A Mercury Monterey leads the Midwest Dream Car Collection cruise down Poyntz Avenue.

Jill Mason, Executive Director of Midwest Car Dream Collection, captures the parade on Poyntz Avenue. “Around 320 cars showed up. It’s our last night of freedom,” said Mason.

Harvey rests his head in the window of Dave Nelson’s truck outside of Midwest Dream Car Collection before the cruise around Manhattan.

Doug Meloan’s 1961 Cadillac sits outside of Midwest Dream Car Collection.

Pauline Johnson places Easter eggs in a tree on Appaloosa Trail in Ogden.

Elijah Bradfield, 12, looks for Easter eggs around his backyard on William Drive in Ogden that were left by Pauline Johnson.

A note on the front door of a house on Appaloosa Trail in Ogden.

Pastor James Holly speaks outside of Trinity Presbyterian Church during Sunday’s drive in service. 

Arlo Biere prays alongside his wife Diane Biere in the trunk of their vehicle at Trinity Presbyterian Church. Arlo and Diane have been attending church at Trinity Presbyterian since 1969.

Mary Jo Harbour stands on her front porch as friends drive by and give her birthday wishes.

Scott Freeby blows Mary Jo Harbour a kiss after playing the trumpet on her birthday.

From the front, Randy Sievers cuts Adrian Baker’s hair, Dylan Roberts cuts Jackson Herms’ hair and Bryan Burrows cuts Jim Pitts hair at Campus Barbershop on Wednesday. 

Lirui Zhao plants peanuts while her husband Lanfei Zhao plays with their daughter Danna Zhao in the Jardine Community Garden on Tuesday. “Each plot is usually five dollars but currently it is free because we can’t collect money in person,” said Kassie Sprecher, the Community Coordinator for West End.

Lirui Zhao plants peanuts in her plot. There are a total of 90 plots in the Jardine Community Garden. 

Nazmun Khan waters her tomato plants in the Jardine Community Garden on Tuesday. “A lot of students here are quite interested in gardening,” said Khan.

Customers stands six feet apart from one another while waiting in line at On The Hook Fish and Chips Food Truck in the AutoZone parking lot on Fort Riley Boulevard.

Cindy Newell, cashier in the cafeteria at Theodore Roosevelt, walks in between Dee West, left, and Mynon Reffitt, right, with a bag of food.

Brennan Birk grabs two bags of food outside of Theodore Roosevelt Elementary while his mom, Jenny Birk, waits in the car on Wednesday.

Stefanie Klinger looks for cars pulling up to Theodore Roosevelt to pick up food.

A mask covers the face of a bunny that was carved out of a tree in Shannon Skelton’s front yard at the corner of Colorado Street and South 12th Street.

Joslyn Nixon, dressed as a minion from Despicable Me, strikes a pose for Anna DeJesus at the Farm to Table Boxes pickup at A & H Farm.

Freshly picked tomatoes sit in a box at A & H Farm.

Suezy DeJesus gets ready for the Farm to Table Boxes pickup at A & H Farm and sets out jars of pickles and other canned goods.

Alex Vanuelos puts on Juan Vanuelos’ mask while he holds their daughter, Ximena Vanuelos, 4, after he tried some honey at the RemeBees vendor booth during the Farmer’s Market.

Health care workers gather outside of Geary Community Hospital on the helicopter pad before three U.S. Army HH-60M Medical Evacuation Black Hawks fly over the hospital.

Three U.S. Army HH-60M Medical Evacuation Black Hawks fly over Geary Community Hospital as a way to thank health care workers for working during the coronavirus pandemic.

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