April 16, 2020
Since the beginning of this COVID-19 crisis, Governor Parson has given local health departments the authority to issue stay at home and emergency orders.
Governor Parson continues to cede oversight and jurisdiction to the local health departments. He has left his executive orders open to tighter restrictions to best meet regional needs. The governor has data and the many COVID – 19 predictive peak models to make decisions, but he believes these decisions should be left to the local health departments. While this approach is commendable and we appreciate having local jurisdiction, it makes regional cooperation a challenge.
With that said, the regional approach when dealing with COVID - 19 falls to the jurisdictions with health departments. Most of the jurisdictions with health departments are counties such as Jackson, Cass, Clay, and Platte on the Missouri side and Wyandotte and Johnson Counties on the Kansas side. Some cities have their own health departments such as Kansas City and Independence, so they have jurisdiction during a health emergency such as this pandemic.
Under the Mid America Regional Council (MARC), commissioners, health experts, city managers, and mayors across the region have formed a multi-agency coordinating group to implement the regional plan to address major events such as the COVID-19 crisis.
We are better off as a region, if our cities are coordinating and have the same emergency orders and restrictions. COVID-19 does not observe jurisdictional boundaries, we are impacted by each other’s actions.
However, arriving at consensus between some of these counties and cities is difficult with differing geographical areas, demographics, densities, and more. The health experts and the data from the numerous COVID – 19 models predict a peak for our region near the end of April. This has not changed significantly in the last week. Therefore, MARC has been considering May 15 - two weeks after the peak - as a target date to begin easing the stay at home orders
MARC does not have authority over local jurisdictions, but serves as a coordination and communication hub for our region. With the announcement of May 3 as an extension of the Stay at Home by Governor Kelly of KS and Missouri Governor Parson, some of the less populated jurisdictions have taken that date as their target to lift their stay at home orders. More densely populated areas such as Johnson, Jackson and Wyandotte counties, Kansas City, and Independence, all with their own health departments, have continued to consider May 15 as the date to ease restrictions.
Jackson County just announced that they have extended the stay at home order until May 15. Based on regional conversations, it is anticipated that our largest neighboring counties and jurisdictions will likely announce their intentions to extend their stay at home orders to the same date. These larger jurisdictions have data in hand showing that they will need to extend the stay at home further out than May 3 to stop the spread. The rationale is that May 15 is a date that many businesses can start making plans for getting back to work.
If the region peaks sooner than the models predict, it may be possible to ease these stay at home orders. Based on what we know today, May 15 gives our citizens a realistic focal point to return to normalcy.
I understand this news is difficult, but we must do everything we can to protect each other and not overburden our health care systems. We will hold steady and remain strong with our stay at home efforts, and it will pay off immensely.
The order requires individuals to stay at home except for activities essential to a person’s health and safety, such as getting groceries or seeking medical care.
Mitigation efforts are working, but predictive models tell us the peak number of cases it yet to come. The actions we take today will determine our future.
I want to commend all of you for taking this seriously. Every resident is part of this fight and it’s very clear that our stay at home and social distancing efforts are making a difference and saving lives. We must not get complacent and risk the sacrifices we’ve made thus far.
At this time it’s necessary to extend the state of emergency in Lee’s Summit to help expedite emergency response efforts, allow the City to quickly procure needed resources, and alter policies and processes in order to protect public health and safety.
With resiliency, kindness and care, our nation is navigating these uncertain times. Essential businesses are doing their part and making adjustment to protect employees and customers. Individuals are donating time and financial resources and states are coordinating the shared use of medical equipment.
While our lives have been disrupted, the City is working around the clock to ensure there is no disruption in the delivery of essential City services.
Do not dwell upon this time, but set your eyes on the future. Do not let others dwell, but lift them up and give them hope. Better days are ahead so keep the faith. It takes faith to come together by staying apart, so please continue to stay home and save lives.