Kansas and Missouri will reevaluate statewide plans by May 3
At noon today, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas stated a desire to see “a sustained decline in infections” before relaxing any precautionary measures. This was after Kansas Governor Laura Kelly on Wednesday extended statewide stay-at-home orders through at least May 3.
He took things one step further in announcing a tentative May 15 end to citywide stay-at-home orders. The order was previously set to expire April 24.
“Why are we using our own deadline as compared to the May 3 deadline? The answer is very simple. The situation in KC is in many ways different right now than perhaps what’s being seen in a place like Fulton, Missouri, or Hutchison, Kansas,” Lucas explained.
Three hours later, Missouri Governor Mike Parson extended statewide orders through to May 3. Missouri has been under stay-at-home orders since April 6, while Kansas started theirs on March 28.
Parson has taken criticism for a perceived hesitation in responding to COVID-19 developments in a timely manner. Today, he took a step back, falling in line with other regional leaders like Kelly and Lucas.
“Missouri is incredibly diverse. Our hardest hit areas like St. Louis and KC will take longer to recover. We need a slow, steady pace as we reopen the economy in stages,” Parson said.
Lucas cited the opinions of public health officials, like Dr. Rex Archer of the Kansas City Health Department, who joined the mayor at the press conference, as a key factor in deciding on an ongoing timetable for the city.
Bipartisanship will also continue to be important to reduce regional confusion and keep people safe on both sides of State Line Rd. In addition to working with Kelly, Lucas has recently spoken with Parson and U.S. Senators Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley.
“This is not an issue of, in my opinion, any kind of politics. It’s not an issue about any other kind of ancillary concerns. It’s about how we can keep people safe,” Lucas said in the opening minute of his announcement.
Opening the economy back up too soon could beckon another spike in cases as well. Lucas also cited the outbreak in the St. Louis area and the disproportionate infection rate in the African American community. He stressed a need for additional testing and data.
He also pledged his continued support to the Kansas City business community. In late March, Lucas announced a $500,000 grant program for small businesses impacted by the coronavirus. It was passed as part of the city budget shortly thereafter.
“It is a point of great pride for that – still as of today, I believe – we are the only jurisdiction in this region that has appropriated funding for small businesses,” Lucas said.