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Nick’s Picks: Connecting Dots During Another Week of Stay-at-Home Orders

Making the Best of Social Isolation

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Above image credit: "Kansas City Week in Review" host Nick Haines. (John McGrath | Flatland)

Here’s the outlook for the week ahead in Kansas City so you and your family can be better prepared for what’s coming.

Stay-at-Home Order in Kansas

Starting today, the entire state of Kansas is under a stay-at-home order. Most of the area already is under a similar emergency mandate. So what difference will it make if you live on the Kansas side of state line? 

Two key differences in Kansas are that gun shops and churches are exempt. That may prompt confusion and challenges, especially given places of worship are already closed. Under Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s executive action, religious gatherings are not required to abide by a ban on crowds of more than 10. They’re only asked to practice social distancing. Does that mean your local church or synagogue could reopen this week?

Online Learning Test

This week we will learn how well our area schools are doing in teaching children outside of the classroom.  School districts on both sides of the state line are officially back and most are providing online lessons to their students. 

Some districts are mailing packets of assignments to students in homes without laptops or an adequate internet connection. In Kansas, rural schools can still meet face to face with their students, providing the class size does not exceed 10 people, including the teacher.

Tightening Enforcement

Last week, our local political and law enforcement leaders made it clear they were not going to make arrests or start doling out fines to Kansas Citians not abiding with stay-at-home rules or exercising proper social distancing.  Can we expect that to change this week? Johnson County officials say they’re preparing to issue citations, fines or even take action to close a business, if violations continue. 

inside of police car on patrol
Kansas City, Missouri, police officers continue to deal with law enforcement on a daily basis. (Brian Perlman | Flatland)

Also, remember that regular traffic laws still apply. The Kansas City Police Department says officers working traffic enforcement on a 55 mile-per-hour stretch of roadway  stopped countless cars driving 80 or more. And yes, they did get a ticket. Even with the virus, tickets will still be sent to your home and traffic violation points added to your license. 

Missouri Lawmakers Return

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson says he’s likely to call state lawmakers back to work in Jefferson City this week. He needs legislators to pass a supplemental budget to provide $40 million in emergency funding to help Missouri combat the pandemic. 

Meanwhile, the Kansas Legislature is adjourned until April 27. Closer to home, city hall in Kansas City, Missouri, has been shut down until April 24.

Essential Business Struggles

Even businesses declared “essential” during these emergency orders are finding it hard to survive. While hotels are on the “essential” list, a sharp drop in business is proving too much for the new Crossroads Hotel downtown. It’s just closed its doors after laying off 151 workers. 

Dozens of restaurants that were open for “carryout only” have also now shutdown. It’s just one of the reasons why unemployment filings in Kansas rose 1,200% last week. They rose more than 900% in Missouri. 

Kansas Primary

It’s probably not the biggest item on your agenda right now, but voting begins this week in the Kansas Democratic Presidential Primary.  All registered Democrats will receive ballots via mail starting today. They need to be returned postmarked by April 24. The actual Kansas primary election is May 2. Kansas is one of the nation’s last states to vote.

Convention Hotel Woes

This Thursday was the date set for the grand reopening of the new Loews Kansas City convention hotel. Add that to the list of events that are not going to be happening in Kansas City this week. Dozens of conventions had already booked the 24-story hotel, adding another financial squeeze on Kansas City that is seeing a significant drop in sales tax, earnings tax and hotel tax revenue. 

Graduations

A lot of our seniors at high school and at college were disappointed to learn they wouldn’t be getting formal graduation ceremonies this year. But not so fast. Kansas State University has announced it will honor its new graduates during its fall commencement in December. And they’re not the only ones who will get to put on their cap and gown, after all. The Blue Valley School District among those now saying graduation is postponed, not canceled. 

Words of Wisdom

While it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the news right now, there are three pieces of advice that give us the best roadmap for how to act and respond during this strange and unpredictable time.

Advice #1:

“Stay at home and stop exploiting the exceptions.”  – Dr. Lee Norman, Kansas Secretary of Health 

Advice #2: 

“Let’s think physical distancing, not social distancing.  We all need one another.”  – Tim DeWeese, Johnson County Mental Health Director

Advice #3: 

“Take a deep breath.” – Dr. Linda Moore, Kansas City psychologist

Flatland also has been tracking how to maintain your mental health in seclusion.

I know many people are frustrated right now, but we still have the ability to do more things than we’ve been told not to do. 

We can still run, leap, jump, skip, walk the dog, get carryout from hundreds of restaurants serving everything from BBQ to Indian food. 

We can still drink wine, beer and other adult beverages. 

We can binge watch our favorite TV shows, watch a million movies or just catch up on all those books we’ve always told ourselves, we’d get around to reading. 

All that said, where can I get my haircut now? I asked my family and my 20- year-old son and my 17-year-old daughter said they’d do it for me. My son Ethan has one of those electric hair trimmers. It’s going down tonight.

I’ll report back next week on how it went. In the meantime, if you see me on “Kansas City Week in Review” wearing a baseball cap, you’ll know why.

Watch Nick Haines on Friday at 7:30 p.m. on KCPT’s primetime public affairs program, Kansas City Week in Review.

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