Mar 20, 2020 4:58 PM

Kansas starts loan program to aid bars, restaurants, motels

Posted Mar 20, 2020 4:58 PM
Kansas Governor Laura Kelly and Commerce Secretary David Toland during Friday's announcement -image courtesy Kansas Dept. of Commerce
Kansas Governor Laura Kelly and Commerce Secretary David Toland during Friday's announcement -image courtesy Kansas Dept. of Commerce

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas has launched a new program to provide short-term, no-interest loans to bars, restaurants, taverns and motels struggling to cover operating expenses because of the economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic.

The program announced Friday by Gov. Laura Kelly and state Commerce Secretary David Toland will make up to $5 million in loans. Several communities, including Kansas City-area suburbs, Topeka, and Lawrence, have told businesses to stop allowing dine-in services.

Kansas Labor Secretary Delia Garcia said the state has received more than 11,000 initial unemployment claims this week, a 524% increase over last week's figure. Kansas has confirmed more than 30 coronavirus cases. 

Read the release from the Governor's office below

U.S. Small Business Administration Disaster Assistance Loans

The Governor first announced that under the state's disaster declaration she issued on March 12th, Kansas has applied for, and expects to receive, disaster assistance loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to supplement small businesses disrupted by the economic fallbacks of COVID-19.

"As Kansans practice social distancing, our restaurants, bars and other event centers will see a decrease in patrons. These loans can be used to help keep Kansas small businesses afloat when they can't obtain credit elsewhere," Kelly said. "During this turbulent time, our affected small business owners need support."

Through the SBA, loans of up to $2 million would be made available to Kansas small businesses in need of assistance. The disaster declaration extends to all 105 Kansas counties, making low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital available for Kansas small businesses across the state.

"SBA's disaster loans are a powerful tool to help our state's small businesses weather this temporary storm," Toland said. "The Department of Commerce is grateful for the SBA's quick action working to make these resources available and for their commitment to keeping Kansas businesses strong."

Once approved, Kansas small businesses can begin applying for disaster loan assistance through the SBA at SBA loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills. The interest rate is 3.75 percent for small businesses and 2.75 percent for private non-profit organizations.

Hospitality Industry Relief Emergency (HIRE) Fund

The Governor also announced during Friday's press conference that her administration has allocated $5 million of state funds to establish the Hospitality Industry Relief Emergency (HIRE) Fund to provide short-term, zero-interest loans for Kansas' hospitality sector during the pandemic.

"In an effort to make sure all Kansans come through these difficulties together, we are providing much-needed support to businesses dealing with the earliest impacts of this public health crisis," Kelly said. "There are more than 10,000 hotels, restaurants, bars, event centers and other hospitality establishments in need of our support right now, and we're doing everything we can see them through this severe, but temporary, downturn."

The HIRE Fund offers loans up to $20,000 at 0 percent interest for a term of three years to hospitality businesses with fewer than 100 employees.

"The hospitality industry is experiencing some of the most immediate impacts of the COVID-19 crisis with businesses being closed to the public all across Kansas," Toland said. "HIRE Fund loans are available to help these businesses meet working capital commitments, such as payroll, utilities, commercial loan payments, inventory expenses and more."

Loan decisions will made within 72 hours of the time an application is submitted, and businesses will receive funds within 48 hours (or the next business day) of an application being approved. The program is administered by NetWork Kansas, a non-profit with a system of small business loan underwriters across 64 Kansas counties.

For more information on the Hospitality Industry Relief Emergency fund, visit

Kansas Department of Labor Updates

García spoke about her agency's role in supporting Kansans during the current health and economic crisis.

"We are doing everything we can to support Kansas workers and employers," García said. "As we navigate these unprecedented times, know the Kansas Department of Labor is here for you – and we are ready to support our fellow Kansans."

To illustrate the gravity of the situation, García said that last week the department received 1,296 unemployment claims. This week, the department has received 11,355 claims – an increase of over 10,000.

 "We are in uncharted waters right now, which underscores the importance of us working together," García said. "To serve Kansas workers and employers as efficiently as possible, we are encouraging them to utilize our website -- -- as much as possible."

Employers and workers can apply for benefits, file by spreadsheet, find answers to frequently asked questions and utilize additional resources online.

Office of the State Bank Commissioner Updates

Herndon shared updates from his office, dispelled false rumors surrounding the impact of COVID-19 on Kansas banks and discussed how the Kansas banking industry is stepping up to help people across the state.

The Office of the State Bank Commissioner regulates banks chartered by Kansas and non-bank consumer credit providers licensed to do business in Kansas. It conducts safety and soundness examinations, regulatory compliance examinations and information technology/cybersecurity exams as mandated by federal and state laws and regulations.

"Kansas banks are safe and they are sound," Herndon said. "No depositor has ever lost a penny of insured deposits since the FDIC was created in 1933. I urge Kansans to be safe, protect yourself and your funds by leaving them in your account."

Herndon said bankers across the state are assisting Kansans by making new loans, amending terms and conditions to existing loans and otherwise working with borrowers adversely impacted by the pandemic.

"Kansas bankers and the Kansas banking industry is stepping up to help through this pandemic, and they are here to assist in any way they can for the duration," Herndon said.

The Governor also thanked Kansas medical professionals, members of the press corps, grocery store and food industry workers, custodial staff, firefighters, police officers, state and local emergency managers, and the 21 state-active duty National guardsmen & women for their hard work.

"I know many of you are working long hours away from your family and that is tough so please know that Kansans all across the state appreciate you and all you are doing," Kelly said.

Continue Reading Little Apple Post
Mar 20, 2020 4:58 PM
UPDATE: What Kansans need to know about the COVID-19 coronavirus
Health officials say one way to stop the spread of the new coronavirus is to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Kansas News Service

The new coronavirus is spreading quickly around the world, including across Kansas, and setting off a range of responses.

The Kansas News Service is boiling down key developments in the state and updating the status regularly here. To read this information in Spanish, go here. This list was last updated at 2:10 p.m. March 31.


430 cases, including two from out of state (see map for counties)

9 deaths (4 in Wyandotte County, 3 in Johnson County, 1 each in Sedgwick and Crawford counties)

NOTE: These figures only include cases confirmed with lab tests and do not represent the real, unknown total. Community transmission is occurring in parts of Kansas.


Gov. Laura Kelly is instituting a statewide stay-at-home order as of 12:01 a.m. March 30. It will last until at least April 19. Stay-at-home orders allow people to take care of essential activities (such as grocery shopping or going to work) as well as exercise outside, but otherwise keep to themselves. 

The state’s stay-at-home order supersedes at least 13 county-by-county orders. Should the state’s order lift before a county’s is through, the county can choose to keep its own in effect.


For the whole state: The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is now mandating home quarantine for 14 days if you've traveled to the places listed below. If you come down with symptoms (such as a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher, coughing or shortness of breath) during those 14 days, contact your health care provider and explain your potential COVID-19 exposure.  

  1. Louisiana or anywhere in Colorado on or after March 27.
  2. States with known widespread community transmission (California, Florida, New York and Washington) on or after March 15.
  3. Illinois or New Jersey on or after March 23.
  4. Eagle, Summit, Pitkin and Gunnison counties in Colorado (if your visit was March 8th or later).
  5. Cruise ships or river cruises on or after March 15. Anyone previously told to quarantine because of their cruise ship travel should also finish out their quarantine.
  6. International destinations on or after March 15. Anyone previously told to quarantine because of their international travel should also finish out their quarantine.


As of March 27, Kansas health secretary Lee Norman said the state lab was handling 175 samples a day. But Kansas will receive more equipment within about a week that will let it handle 700 to 1,000 samples daily, though shortages of specialized supplies such as nose swabs may still hamper work at times. 

Norman said there’s enough capacity in the state, now that testing has ramped up through commercial labs and hospitals. State testing is reserved for high-risk groups, such as sick nursing home residents and health care workers. Others can ask their doctor or nurse practitioner to order through private labs.

What Kansas still lacks is enough testing material to study COVID-19 rates among people without symptoms.


It gives the state government more power to marshal resources and triggers the state's response plan. The state Legislature has extended Kelly's declaration through May (and can extend it), with the aim of giving her the ability to make certain decisions when lawmakers aren’t in session.

On March 22, Kelly eased state rules to expand the use of telemedicine, to temporarily license more health workers and to allow heavier trucks on Kansas highways hauling relief supplies. On March 23, she ordered a ban on evictions if a tenant was unable to pay because of the coronavirus crisis. And she extended the income tax filing deadline to July 15, in line with a delay for filing federal tax forms.


K-State, University of Kansas and Wichita State: All of them will go fully online for the end of the school year. Students at K-State and KU will need special exemptions to remain in dorms.

Other colleges: Washburn and Fort Hays State are online. Newman University expanded spring break for two weeks (March 14 to March 29). Johnson County Community College will close campus from March 14-29, and all courses will restart online March 30. Pittsburg State started break a day early and will resume classes indefinitely online on March 30.


Gov. Laura Kelly and Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson have shut down all K-12 schools, public, private and parochial, for the rest of the 2019-20 school year. They had initially issued a strong recommendation that schools close March 16 through 20. 

Some county health departments had already issued similar orders. 

A Kansas State Department of Education task force has issued guidance to school districts on how to continue some amount of student learning. 


The governor’s executive order temporarily banning landlords from evicting businesses or residential tenants is effective until May 1. That same order put in a moratorium on any mortgage foreclosures through the same period.

The governor mandated on March 23, through an executive order, that gatherings be restricted to less than 10 people.

Kansas state workers: Access to the Statehouse is limited to official business only, and lawmakers went on break early. Kelly wanted most state employees to stay home for at least two weeks starting March 23.

State prisons: The Kansas Department of Corrections ended visitation at all state facilities, and will “re-evaluate on an ongoing basis.” It urges families to talk to inmates through email, phone calls and video visits. 

Electric companies: Evergy, which serves 950,000 customers in Kansas, will not disconnect residential or business services for an unspecified amount of time due to the “unprecedented challenge” of coronavirus that “may result in customers facing unexpected or unusual financial strain.”

Casinos: All four state-owned gaming facilities will close at the end of business on March 17, and remain so until at least March 30.

Public events: Many events and public places around the state have been canceled until at least the end of March. 

Sports: The Kansas State High School Athletics Association canceled the state basketball tournament midway through it. And the Big 12 suspended spring sports until March 29.  


COVID-19 usually causes mild to moderate symptoms, like a fever or cough. Most people with mild symptoms recover in two weeks. More severe cases, found in older adults and people with health issues, can have up to six weeks’ recovery time or can lead to death.


  1. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Frequently.
  2. Cover your coughs.
  3. If you’re an older Kansan or medically fragile, put off any vacations and limit your trips to the grocery store or any public space.
  4. Stay home if you are sick — this goes for all ages.


Kansas Department of Health and Environment:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

The Kansas News Service is a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio focused on health, the social determinants of health and their connection to public policy.