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TOPEKA, KS (KCTV) – Kansas Governor Laura Kelly said Tuesday that she is expanding the state’s stay-home order to includes churches and other religious organizations as well as funerals.

The new Executive Order Number 20-18 replaces Number 20-14 and extends the limiting of gatherings to 10 people or less to church and religious services and funerals.

Kelly noted that at least three instances of community spread can be attributed to church services, making up a quarter of the COVID-19 clusters being tracked by the state.

“With Kansas rapidly approaching its projected peak infection rate in the coming weeks, the risk for a spike in COVID-19 cases through additional church gatherings is especially dangerous,” she said. “So we must take additional actions to keep Kansas safe.”

There are new exceptions built into the EO so officiants and other people performing the church or funeral services are not included in the limit of 10. The limit also does not apply to any military personnel assisting in a funeral service.

“This was a difficult decision and could not come at a more disappointing time,” Kelly said. “Kansans are a community of faithful people. We draw strength from fellowship and prayer. We rely on our pastors and our priests, our rabbis and our imams, and all of our religious leaders for guidance and counsel, especially at times of sorrow, uncertainty and hardship, and especially during Holy Week.”

Meeting or proceedings of the Kansas House or Senate are still exempt from this order, as are federal government operations or facilities. Families can also still hold private gatherings.

The new executive order goes into effect at 12:01 p.m. Wednesday, April 8.

Kelly also announced the latest reach of the disease in Kansas, saying that as of Tuesday there from 900 positive COVID-19 cases and 27 deaths reported, with the highest concentrations being in Johnson and Wyandotte Counties.

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