KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The stay-at-home orders set to expire next week have now been extended in both Kansas and Missouri until May 3.
And Kansas City, Jackson County and now Clay County have taken it a step further until May 15.
But there’s a large group of people who say they won’t do it anymore. They want to get back to normal immediately, and they’re planning protests to let local leaders know.
“I think it’s time to try to start working past the fear and get things reopened,” Jane Shull said. “If not, what are we going to do? Stay closed forever?”
Shull owns a cleaning company, and her business is down 40-50% due to the coronavirus pandemic.
She said she’s sick and tired of staying home and reading about businesses failing.
“If people are afraid to go out or go to businesses, that’s their decision,” Shull said. “But let the people open up their businesses and have people social distance, whatever it takes, but you just cannot keep everything locked down.”
Groups on social media have been popping up, advocating for reopening the economy.
A group called Reopen Missouri called the stay-at-home order an “inhumane and ineffective policy.” Another group called Reopen Kansas called the order a “severe overreaction to the COVID issue.”
They’ve planned protests throughout both states next week. Locally, there’s a call to flood the now empty streets of downtown Kansas City on Monday and another protest planned at J.C. Nichols Fountain.
But metro health officials say large crowds are the last thing the community needs right now.
“If you take a virus that’s highly contagious and respirable and you want to open up society, is there a worse way to make your point than to make everybody sick?” said Dr. Steve Stites with KU Health System.
Doctors on the front lines of the pandemic said our recovery is in a fragile place. All it would take is a few large gatherings and the number of COVID-19 cases could explode.
“We have real world examples,” Kansas Health Secretary Dr. Lee Norman said. “We had a church gathering here in Kansas that had 50 people infected, six deaths, and they went to nine counties so far with the illness, and that’s how the spread occurred.”
Regardless, Shull said she’s thought about the health ramifications of a potential protest and she’s still considering going.
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas issued the following statement regarding next week’s planned protests:
“I issued our emergency orders to protect everyone in our community, including those who will be protesting. Like all Kansas Citians, those protesting will be subject to our order, which is based in the Constitution and laws of our country and our state. For their own health and the safety of their families, I pray protesters will follow proper social distancing guidelines while sharing their message.”