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Public health officials representing Johnson and Wyandotte Counties joined Kansas City, Mo.’s health department director Wednesday evening in a statement recommending that stay-at-home orders affecting the metro area remain in place through May 15.
“We recognize our metro residents are making tremendous sacrifices and are concerned about their jobs, their businesses and their families,” said Joseph LeMaster, MD, MPH, public health officer for Johnson County. “We are constantly looking at data to determine how we balance public health with economic concerns.”
The recommendation came hours after Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly announced she was extending the statewide stay-at-home executive order through May 3. Kelly’s initial order, which went into effect March 30, was set to expire Sunday, April 19.
Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Quinton Lucas announced Thursday morning that he was extending the stay-at-home order in effect in the city.
Johnson County and Wyandotte County government officials would have to issue their own extensions if they determined it was appropriate to adhere to the health officials’ May 15 recommendation. The locally issued stay-at-home order
The Johnson County Board of County Commissioners meets this morning at 9:30 a.m. Nothing on the agenda as posted indicates scheduled consideration of an extension of the local stay-at-home order, which was set to expire next Thursday, April 23. (The state order supersedes, the local order, meaning Johnson County will be under stay-at-home restrictions through at least May 3 at this point).
Earlier this week, three members of the Board of County Commissioners indicated they were hearing from constituents who were frustrated by the stay-at-home orders and wanted to see restrictions lifted soon. Others on the commission said Johnson County needed to move to reopen normal functions cautiously to ensure the virus did not start to spread quickly.
In a public health update Tuesday, Sanmi Areola, PhD, director of the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment, indicated he believed it was too early to begin consideration of rolling back restrictions.
“Definitely way too early to roll back — we don’t want to lose the gains that we have made,” Areola said. “Obviously, if we are rolling back, this is not something we can do at once. That’s something we have to think out appropriately, again to make sure to that we don’t have to do this again.”
The regional public health officials on Wednesday again reminded citizens of the steps they can take to help prevent the spread of the virus:
- Stay home. The best way to prevent the illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus.
- If you must be out, stay six feet or more away from others and wear a fabric or paper mask
- Wash your hands often.
- Avoid touching your hands to your face.
- Cover coughs and sneezes.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.