When will KC’s stay-at-home or­der end?

The Kansas City Star - - Opinion - BY THE KANSAS CITY STAR ED­I­TO­RIAL BOARD

While Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump would love to have the coun­try “opened up” by Easter, as would we all, it re­mains that you can’t set a sched­ule for a virus like COVID-19, much less a pan­demic.

So, what ex­actly has to hap­pen to lift Kansas City’s stay-at-home or­der?

“I think that’s un­clear,” says Eric Kratty, found­ing part­ner of Overland Park tax and in­vest­ment firm World Class Un­lim­ited. “I don’t ex­pect an all-clear kind of a no­tice. I as­sume we’ll be eas­ing back into it.” Other busi­nesses The Star con­tacted were just as un­sure, though sup­port­ive of the mea­sure.

Ad­ding to the un­cer­tainty is the fact that lo­cal health of­fi­cials have yet to agree on the cri­te­ria that would ease or elim­i­nate the stay-at-home or­der. In fact, Kansas City Health Department Direc­tor Dr. Rex Archer said the an­swer to when the or­der might be lifted “may change to­mor­row based on our evolv­ing knowl­edge of this new virus.”

John­son County Pub­lic Health Of­fi­cer Joseph LeMaster sug­gests that “the use of crit­i­cal care beds and ca­pac­ity over­all in the re­gion will be the best way to tell where we are.” But he said dis­cus­sions are still go­ing on as to whether ex­ist­ing data sys­tems could even com­pile such in­for­ma­tion or if a new data sys­tem might be nec­es­sary.

An­other pos­si­ble barom­e­ter of how we’re do­ing would be, obviously enough, to­tal con­firmed coro­n­avirus cases. But that’s not a re­li­able data point, due to lim­ited test­ing and the fact that many peo­ple are asymp­to­matic.

One other huge vari­able is us: The more that area res­i­dents abide by the stay-at-home or­der — with ex­cep­tions for medicine, food and other true ne­ces­si­ties — the fewer the in­fec­tions and the shorter the or­der.

On that point, Archer is hap­pily op­ti­mistic, thanks to street-level ob­ser­va­tions and feedback from the com­mu­nity. “We ba­si­cally had no slow-down traf­fic dur­ing nor­mal rush hour,” he said Tuesday, the first day of the more re­stric­tive or­der. “Traf­fic seems even less, so far, to­day.

Cul­ture change re­quires time, Archer noted, but he takes heart from vol­un­tary com­pli­ance and the power of peer pres­sure in such things as en­force­ment of non-smok­ing laws.

Of all the fac­tors that may lift the stayat-home or­der by any­thing close to Easter, the only one we have con­trol over is our own be­hav­ior. Self-iso­lat­ing is go­ing to be the key.

Con­cern about the econ­omy is un­der­stand­able and war­ranted. But health is ev­ery­thing. Take it from a money man.

“Money is im­por­tant to make the world go ‘round, and I get that,” Kratty says, not­ing he’s closed his shop down for the time be­ing. “But there’s noth­ing here that’s more im­por­tant than my staff’s or my clients’ health.” And if we get out and mix it up too soon, it might only lengthen our stay at home.

“We don’t want to see a big resur­gence of cases, which is a pos­si­bil­ity if the stayat-home or­der is lifted too soon,” LeMaster rightly says.

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