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Nick’s Picks: Reopening Week Comes With Many Questions

Cautious First Steps Toward the New Normal

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

A new month comes with new questions about how to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

Opening

Starting today, the state of Missouri reopens after a more than month-long shutdown. The state of Kansas is also easing restrictions to allow restaurants, retailers and places of worship to open their doors.  

But you can be excused if you’re still puzzled about when things will open where you live and what rules you’ll need to follow. The governors of both states have allowed local cities and counties to set their own dates and rules for ending stay at home orders. 

You have to wait until May 11 if you live in Johnson and Wyandotte counties or if you live in most of Jackson County. 

Kansas City, Missouri, doesn’t lift its stay at home order until May 15. But this upcoming Wednesday, Mayor Quinton Lucas has planned a “soft opening” for non-essential businesses that are not open to the general public.

Do I Have to Go to Work?

We’re going to be watching the answer to that question closely this week.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson says, “If the boss calls, you’ve got to go back to work.”  But Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas says not so fast. He says the city has added protections to prohibit an employer from terminating you if you still feel unsafe due to the pandemic. Expect more flashpoints on that this week. 

Cash Spat

The White House may get involved this week in sorting out confusion over whether Jackson County has any duty to give millions of dollars in coronavirus cash aid to Kansas City. Jackson County received $123 million in COVID-19 aid.  As Kansas City has a population of less than a half a million people, it received nothing.  

Jackson County officials say federal guidelines won’t allow them to just write a check to the city for coronavirus aid.  And that’s now creating lots of tension. Look for that cash spat to escalate this week.

Executive Power Moves 

Speaking of unhappiness, one of the top legislative leaders in Kansas says she’s crafting legislation this week to limit Gov. Laura Kelly’s authority. In a Twitter post, Senate President Susan Wagle says: “in other states, people have risen up to rein in an out of control governor. Sadly, the time has now come for us here in Kansas to do the same.” 

What that means and what it might look like is unclear at this point. But some Johnson County businesses, including the owners of a boutique gym, are already threatening lawsuits against Kelly’s restrictions. 

Just Because You Can, Will You?

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson says starting this week concerts can resume in the Show Me state.  While local restrictions currently stop crowds gathering in Kansas City and St. Louis, if you could go to a concert would you? If you’re a band, would you play?  

Even with an easing of stay-at-home restrictions, it’s clear many businesses are still acting very cautiously. And that goes for other venues, too.  Several area churches have already declared they won’t reopen until the end of May. The Church of the Resurrection in Leawood doesn’t plan to resume full in-person services until August. 


Interactive COVID-19 Case Mapper


Cop Killing

The Overland Park Police Department is struggling to find ways this week to honor a slain officer killed after a hit and run.  The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office and the Merriam, Lenexa, and Leawood police are all helping to respond to calls for service in Overland Park as the department mourns the loss of 37-year-old Mike Mosher. It’s the first time an officer has been killed in Overland Park since 1985.

Teen Democracy 

Are you a teenager and looking for a job now that there may not be internships or summer positions available? The Kansas Secretary of State’s office wants you.  They’re trying to recruit teens to work as poll workers for the August primary and November general elections.

With heightened concerns about elderly poll workers, the Secretary of State says teens are less likely to get sick and be more comfortable with the technology involved in quickly checking voters. 

Hiring Contact Tracers

A pandemic can bring with it new job opportunities. The Kansas City Health Department is now hiring contract tracers so they can better monitor the spread of COVID-19. It sounds like a really important job. So how much does it pay? How about $18 an hour. You can find the application on the Kansas City Missouri Health Department website

Interestingly, you don’t have to have a college degree to apply and one of the very few requirements is that you can show evidence you’ve had a flu shot. 

Thank a Teacher

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week. While they may not be on the front lines of providing care, our teachers have been disrupted more than almost any profession during this pandemic. 

If you have a moment consider sending a thank you message to your favorite educator. Teachers all around our metro from elementary school through to our colleges are struggling to keep up with how to continue providing lessons when they can’t see their students in person. And on top of that, they face an uncertain future. 

No one is willing to say when in-person learning will resume. And state lawmakers on both sides of the state line are considering budget cutbacks that are certain to make their jobs more difficult. 

KCPT is committed to serving you with high-quality information and entertainment through this challenging time. Visit kept.org/coronavirus.

Nick Haines tracks the week’s local news every Friday at 7:30 p.m. on KCPT’s primetime public affairs program, “Kansas City Week in Review.”

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