At a recent council meeting, Clay Center Mayor Jimmy Thatcher said something that desperately needed to be said, and we commend him for having the courage to say it.
Mayor Thatcher called upon Gov. Laura Kelly to end the suffering and allow people to go back to work when the stay-at-home order expires Sunday, May 3. Given that just going outside or to the store without a face mask is enough to draw criticism these days, that took guts to say.
We understand what the governor is trying to do. She’s trying to save lives by flattening the curve of how quickly the disease is spread, so our health care system isn’t flooded with more severe cases of the disease than they can handle. Having access to a respirators is a key component in the survival rate for those severe cases -- and there aren’t a lot of those on hand.
But lets be realistic about what’s happening in the meantime. Restrictions to limit the spread of the coronavirus started more than a month ago. People who live paycheck to paycheck who can’t work now are having trouble making ends meets because there’s been a delay in receiving public assistance or that assistance isn’t enough to cover their bills. Even businesses that can keep people working are struggling because only so much commerce can take place when everyone is forced to stay home.
And Mayor Thatcher is right in saying it’s about more than just earning a paycheck -- a social-emotional need isn’t being met as Kansans are being forced to stay at home with nothing to do and away from friends and loved ones.
At some point, life has got to get back to normal.
May 3rd may end up being too early -- without widespread testing of everyone, we won’t really know that for certain. We may see a spike in infections, hospitalizations and even deaths by opening up on May 3 -- but that will happen regardless of when we choose to reopen. To be blunt, if six weeks isn’t enough to flatten the curve, another month or two may not make much of difference -- but it certainly will increase the suffering of those who aren’t allowed to work.
We join Mayor Thatcher’s call to open the state by allowing people to go back to work, but we also urge caution to go along with it. We ask Gov. Kelly to phase in reopening the state by limiting gatherings to no more than 10 people for at least a couple more weeks and by June loosen up that restriction to no more than 50 people before lifting restrictions entirely. We also urge the public to continue to practice social distancing, wear masks if they’ve got them, and limit contact with people outside their household as much as they reasonably can.
It’s time to be brave, and time to stop being so afraid of the coronavirus.
-- Ryan D. Wilson