Last week, the stay at home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic were extended at the state, region and county level from officials empowered with making those decisions.
Gov. Mike Parson extended the stay at home order in place across the state to May 3.
But local entities have the power to make their health orders more restrictive, and in Kansas City and in Platte County that’s what has happened. Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas has extended the stay at home order within the city limits of Kansas City until May 15. And the Platte County Health Department’s board of trustees at a meeting last week extended the countywide stay at home order until May 15.
The county health department order in many ways mimics the Kansas City order put in place by Lucas, including with the May 15 expiration date. The health department order unanimously approved by the five member board of directors is signed by Mary Jo Everhart, director of the health department.
Everhart released a statement in announcing the extension of the order in Platte County:
“The decision to extend this order is not made lightly, and I know it comes at an economic cost for many. But, I want to assure you that these decisions are based on data and models that show our peak arriving in two weeks’ time. As your health director, I am acutely aware of the impact this is having on our economy, businesses, and families. If we open up the county too soon, it has been proven that a second wave of the virus can occur, which would require the restrictions to be put back in place for a longer period. With this in mind, I am trying to prevent an even deeper, more profound impact on our economy.
“Thus far, our numbers in Platte County have remained relatively low BECAUSE of the community complying with the restrictions. Keep in mind, due to inadequate testing we don’t have a clear picture of cases at this time. It is vital to continue to support one another from afar and remain vigilant in our effort to prevent any further spread of this virus,”
“Thus far, our numbers in Platte County have remained relatively low BECAUSE of the community complying with the restrictions. Keep in mind, due to inadequate testing we don’t have a clear picture of cases at this time. It is vital to continue to support one another from afar and remain vigilant in our effort to prevent any further spread of this virus,” Everhart said.
The extended order adds places of worship to the list of essential businesses. Under the order, such places may facilitate distance worship. They may perform essential functions related to distance worship as long as the persons performing those essential functions are under 10 people and are able to maintain social distancing of six feet or more.
“The Platte County Health Dept will continue to reassess the data as it comes available and evaluate it on a daily basis. If new information arises, that will require adjustments to the order, it will be done so in a timely manner,” Everhart said.
COUNTY COMMISSIONERS SEEM DISPLEASED
The news of the county health director’s extension of the stay at home order until May 15 seems to not be setting well with the three members of the Platte County Commission.
The county commission relies heavily on sales tax and use tax income to fund county government. The county commission is intending to place two sales tax questions on the ballot later this year, a quarter cent for law enforcement operations and a quarter cent for parks. The existing half cent sales tax for parks expires Dec. 31.
The economic impacts of the stay at home order played heavily in the words of all three county commissioners when they spoke at Monday’s meeting.
Strongest words came from Dagmar Wood, first district county commissioner, who lives in Parkville.
Wood said in information she has in regard to the nine county Kansas City region “it appears the peak number of new cases occurred on April 9. I’m encouraged by that and I’m sharing that with Mayor Lucas and the governor and the health director,” Wood said at Monday’s county commission meeting, a video of which can be viewed at Platte County Landmark on Facebook.
“The county health director does not report to this commission, she reports to her own board, who is elected by citizens of the county,” Wood continued.
“I personally would like to see a pullback of that May 15 order and I’m doing everything that I can–officially and unofficially–in my power to see that happen,” Wood remarked.
Wood’s remarks followed comments by Ron Schieber, presiding commissioner. For the second consecutive meeting, Schieber was not present in the administration building for the commission session, choosing to take part by phone. (Schieber on Tuesday publicly said he has a health history that puts him in a high risk category and said he will continue to shelter in place).
“This commission is extremely concerned with those people vulnerable but also with what’s happening to the economy, small businesses and families. We are working with some of the decision makers in regard to these stay at home orders, including our governor, the Mid-America Regional Council, the health director, as well as Mayor Lucas. Mayor Lucas is kind of driving the ship around this region,” Schieber said.
“We have a responsibility to get our economy opened up and going as quickly as possible. This commission is committed to two things, to keep those who are vulnerable safe and to help our families and small businesses,” Schieber stated.
Elliott said: “I believe a hallmark of this commission is planning ahead. If a phase in is the preferred route, and May 3 which is the governor’s date and May 15 which is the mayor and county health director’s date, if those aren’t going to be changed then let’s be planning now to have some businesses open on May 3 and all businesses open May 15.
Elliott said “there are a lot of businesses and self-employed that did not get a cut of the stimulus money and even if they did the $1,200 might not be enough to pay even one month’s mortgage. The cure cannot be worse than the disease. We all say Platte County is great place to work, live and play I believe it’s time to get back to working, living and playing.”
Commissioners’ comments came just moments after they had approved the purchase of KN95 personal protection facemasks and surgical style masks to be used by Platte County Sheriff’s Department personnel for emergency situations due to COVID-19.
WORDS FROM THE GOVERNOR
Despite lobbying from some groups, most observers think it is unlikely the governor will move off of his position that the statewide stay at home order will last until May 3. One reason for that is the St. Louis area is reportedly still being heavily impacted by COVID-19.
When Parson extended the statewide “Stay Home Missouri” order through May 3, he announced the state’s initial framework to help Missouri safely and gradually move into the recovery phase of COVID-19.
“We are seeing very early signs in the data leading us to be cautiously optimist that Missouri is beginning to slow the course of the infection and see improvement, even in our hardest hit areas like St. Louis and Kansas City,” Parson said. “Today, I am extending the ‘Stay Home Missouri’ Order through Sunday, May 3, so we can prepare to reopen the economy and get Missourians back to work.”
Parson thanked Missourians for their efforts and commitment to following the “Stay Home Missouri Order,” which has helped improve projections for the course of COVID-19 in Missouri.
“I’m so proud of the people of Missouri,” Parson said. “You have listened. You have taken social distancing seriously. You have looked out for each other, and you have followed the Stay Home Order. Because of your diligent efforts and sacrifices, we are able to put Missourians back to work.”
Parson said between now and May 4, the governor’s office will continue to monitor the situation and work with Missouri’s hospitals, health care providers, public health experts, business leaders, and state departments to develop a plan.
Parson said the state’s approach to recovery will be deliberate and data-driven with two initial phases intended to protect those most at risk of exposure to COVID-19 while returning Missouri to a new normal.
The “Show Me Strong Recovery” plan will rest on four essential pillars:
- Rapidly expand testing capacity and volume in the state, including testing for those who are currently contagious and those who have developed immunity to the virus
- Expand reserves of PPE by opening public and private supply chains and continuing to utilize Missouri businesses in that effort
- Continue to monitor and, if necessary, expand hospital and health care system capacity, including isolation and alternate care facilities for those that cannot self-quarantine at home
- Improve ability to predict potential outbreaks using Missouri’s public health data