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Gov. Laura Kelly was a national leader in taking decisive action to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. Her reopening plan, outlined last night, is another exemplary move.
What’s important about the plan is what it isn’t: A simple declaration that Kansas is open again.
That seems to be what her critics want. Legislative Republicans were quick to criticize the plan for imagined shortcomings, but the whole document strikes the necessary balance between showing movement and being cautious.
Kansas, although fortunate to see a relatively small number of hospitalizations and deaths compared with other states, had faced difficulty in acquiring necessary tests to screen with the virus. Without those tests, and without the infrastructure to deliver them, our state is still operating in the dark.
No matter how much some may want an unfettered return to commerce, if we can’t test those with symptoms or those who have been exposed, Kansas will face swift and striking setbacks.
Here’s the point: No one will participate in an economy if they’re afraid of being sick. Businesses being open doesn’t mean that customers show up. Our state will only truly thrive again if consumers have confidence that their everyday activities won’t put them at risk.
Sadly, through the fault of no one except a microscopic virus, we are far from that point.
That’s why Kelly’s approach makes sense. It’s not about an arbitrary timetable. It’s about looking for tangible progress on testing, on supplying enough personal protective gear for medical professionals, and on reducing our overall number of cases. If we’re able to do all of those things, we will also be able to boost consumer confidence to re-engage with the economy.
It has been obvious for some time that nerves in Kansas — and across the country — are fraying. But national polls have shown continued, robust support for continued social distancing and a cautious approach.
No one is doing this because they like it. No one is doing this to win an election. We’re doing this to protect health care workers and those most vulnerable to the virus. Kansas still faces challenges in the meatpacking sector and in knowing who is infected to begin with.
A careful and considered plan like Kelly’s just makes sense.