GIRARD — With Gov. Laura Kelly’s stay-at-home order set to expire at midnight on May 3, Crawford County officials are trying to come up with a plan to allow businesses to reopen, while still ensuring public safety as the coronavirus crisis continues.
County commissioners decided Tuesday that they will meet with County Health Officer Rebecca Adamson next week for a work session to come up with a draft plan for new county guidelines to put in place following the expiration of Gov. Kelly’s stay-at-home order. County officials will then seek input from community stakeholders, potentially including city and Pittsburg State University officials as well as business owners and others, before approving a new policy.
If the local coronavirus situation remains the same as it has been recently, with no new cases detected, it should not be hard to go back to past guidelines such as allowing businesses to be open if they are regularly cleaning, can comply with six-foot social distancing, and are taking similar precautions that many were taking before the statewide stay-at-home order went into effect, Adamson said Tuesday.
“I don’t think it will be hard to adjust,” she said.
The county will probably not revert to its order that was later superseded by Kelly’s order and included stricter limits on public and business activities than the current statewide requirements. Instead the county commission will likely rescind its previous order next week and replace it with a policy that allows many businesses that have had to close to reopen, while still requiring them to take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Adamson said any conference call with interested stakeholders should include businesses from throughout the county, rather than just Pittsburg business owners.
“I would just like to see it be more inclusive than just a select few,” Adamson said.
Commissioner Jeremy Johnson said it was important for county decisions about its policies in response to the coronavirus crisis to be informed by health experts with knowledge of virology and epidemiology.
“But I think in having that inclusivity of like allowing people to feel like they’re being heard is that you’re going to get more compliance and buy-in,” Johnson said, “rather than ‘We came up with this thing, figure out what you’re going to do by tomorrow.’”
Commissioner Bruce Blair said the county government should come up with a set of proposed guidelines and then get feedback on them, rather than soliciting community input first without having any clear idea of what kind of new guidelines the county is considering.
“I wonder if we should almost facilitate a rough draft” of a new policy, Blair said, with Adamson and the health department coming up with ideas for new guidelines for business and public activities that would be less strict than Gov. Laura Kelly’s stay-at-home order. County officials could then get input on those draft guidelines from business owners and other community stakeholders.
Johnson said coming up with a rough draft of a new county policy and getting public input on it would be a good idea, rather than having a less focused conversation about every complaint or concern that people might have about the current stay-at-home order.
“You need something to talk about,” he said.
Adamson and the county commissioners discussed having a work session as soon as this week to come up with a draft of a new coronavirus policy, but ultimately decided to schedule it for it for next Tuesday at 9 a.m. instead. County officials will then host a conference call with area businesses and other stakeholders on Wednesday, April 29, they said at Tuesday’s commission meeting, although they did not specify what time of day that second conversation would happen or who specifically would be on the call.