Update – Gov. Kelly Ad Astra plan for reopening – April 30, 2020
Gov. Laura Kelly released her guidelines for moving away from the Stay at Home order, toward something that begins to open things up a bit. This is after what seems like a very long time of being restricted largely to our homes, with few opportunities to do much outside activity.
First, let me say that I am as tired and weary of this as you. I really am. It’s not been fun, and very little about this pandemic has been enjoyable. It would’ve have been better if Covid-19 chose someone else’s lifetime to emerge. But it didn’t. It chose ours. So here we are, forced to deal with something none of us wanted to deal with. And I think that’s an important thing to remember. No one chose this. Gov. Kelly didn’t chose to be put in this position. I didn’t know when I decided to do this whole legislative gig that I’d at some point be dealing at a state level with a global pandemic. I don’t have any choice in that, but I do have a choice in how I choose to mange myself and move forward. It seems that’s where we are at, and we’re all struggling to find our way through this.
But I thought I’d put something up tonight about the Governor’s plan for reopening. I don’t expect everyone to be completely happy with it. Some of it is undoubtedly disappointing to many people who were ready to throw open the doors and get back to business. However, there are competing concerns that must be balanced, and I’m grateful for the steady and thoughtful leadership of Gov. Laura Kelly, whose policies have ensured Kansas is among the states with the lowest death rates per capita — below 5 deaths per 100,000 people. The early and decisive action taken by the Governor and her team of experts, including Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Dr. Lee Norman, have ensured the safety of Kansans and protected the long-term health of our state.
The governor’s plan deploys a phased in approach. I’ll link to the entire document below. It’s hard to strike a balance on these things. While ensuring that Kansans remain safe and healthy has always been our top priority, the long-term health of the economy is likewise important. This phase-in approach seems to be the best method toward reaching full economic stability – not just for today, but the months and years to come. The phased approach to opening up our economy protects us from moving too quickly, in a way that jeopardizes the stability of businesses across the state. This ensures that businesses can continue on an upward trajectory, without facing rolling restrictions that can disrupt operations and create additional hardships as we move to a robust recovery. While this might not be the full opening that some hoped for, it is the best plan to ensure our economy remains stable and functional in the future. Our economy is more robust when people are healthy and working, when they feel safe and secure while enjoying their favorite activities. With this plan we minimize the risk of straining hospital capacity, and will take the measured steps necessary to ensure consumers feel confident over the long term that they can resume normal activities without fear of endangering themselves or their families.
Some people are going to think the Governor has gone too far, and is putting too many restrictions on business and commerce. Other people are going to feel that the governor isn’t doing enough. That based on some of the Covid-19 testing data over the last couple weeks, we’re not anywhere near ready to open up for “normal” business. There are no easy, or absolutely right decisions in something like this. The governor, and eventually the legislature, have to make decisions that are best for most of Kansas, even if we know that they will hurt some parts of Kansas. Rather than making rash and reactionary decisions, Governor Kelly took the time and effort to consult with experts to develop good policy that will save lives and protect the long-term stability of our economy. In my opinion her steady, measured approach is exactly the sort of leadership our state needs to get through this crisis. Not only did she seek medical and scientific expertise, she brought together businesses and industry leaders, faith leaders, local officials, and various other groups to help in the planning of reopening the state. Even the Kansas Chamber of Commerce has been supportive of the Governor’s previous actions to create stability and predictability in managing this unparalleled crisis. Her partnership in working with the Kansas Chamber and other industry groups demonstrates her commitment to striking a balance between the health concerns posed by a virus that threatens us all, and the critical need to protect Kansas business from sustained economic threats posed by Covid-19.
Thanks to the reliable good sense of Kansans, working together in selfless ways for the most vulnerable in our communities, we have been able to flatten the curve and bring us closer to “normal” much faster than many other states. Gov. Kelly didn’t make these decisions alone. In the true spirit of Kansas, she convened an inspiring coalition of community leaders throughout this crisis — asking counties and local governments, businesses, faith leaders, and health professionals to weigh in on how best to move our state forward. Kansans are no strangers to the call to sacrifice for the common good. From the outset of this global pandemic Kansans have displayed their reliability and commonsense, and particularly their ability to set aside temporarily their personal desires to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their fellow Kansans. It’s not surprising that hard times bring out the best in our people, and for your resolve and patience, we are truly grateful.
Everything I’ve read in the past month or so has indicated to me that we’re going to see a slow return to normal. The history of pandemics shows that these don’t end quickly, and that in the process they alter people and systems in profound ways. Yet there are a lot of examples of people doing whatever they can to make the world a better, more pleasant place, even in the face of something that is so very devestating. I try to hold to that. I hope you will too.
But I thought the other day that I’m lucky. My kids are grown, and I’m pretty easy to take care of. If I was still the father of young children, had lost my job, couldn’t get my unemployment benefits, and had no way to know how I’d pay my bills, I’d be beside myself. I would be completely despondent and desperate. My heart aches for families that don’t know what they’re going to do. And for small business owners who have put their entire life into something, just to see it erode because at this unusual moment, a virus has emerged to disrupt humaity. There’s no shortage of anger and criticism to go around and that’s understandable. But for those of us who can, let’s do what we can to help. Because we don’t need a bunch of people making the world any harder than it already is. Especially in a time like this.
Link to the Ad Astra plan: covid.ks.gov