The stay at home order now impacts rural Kansas counties

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PAOLA, Kan. — The state of Kansas went into a mandatory stay at home order at midnight Monday morning. It is now the 23rd state to order all its residents to stay home, and to only go out for essential reasons.  Governor Laura Kelly said she did it because the piecemeal implementation across the state was leading to chaos – and ultimately failure.

Kansas City and its surrounding counties have already been under one for several days.  But the areas surrounding the metropolitan area could give us a clue as to how rural places, like in western or southeast Kansas, will look under a Stay at Home order.

This is the first Sunday of the order in Paola.  Lots of cars drive around Paola’s Town Square;  not many are stopping.  And no one is eating in Paola’s Eatery.

“We are running, like, 18% of the business we were originally running,” said owner Christina Basurto, the owner of Paola’s Eatery.  The restaurant’s been in business for a year and a half and was doing great. Until Wednesday, when the town passed a Stay at Home resolution.

Mayor Artie Stuteville described it as, “We mirror the one from the county, the county mirrors the one from the Core Four.”  She continued, “and the citizens have been very receptive to it. They understand the reasoning for it and they have been following those guidelines.” As of Sunday afternoon, Miami County did not have a single confirmed case of COVID-19.  All the counties surrounding it did.  Click here to see a county-by-county map, breaking down each case of COVID-19 by county in the United States. Click here.

Mayor Stuteville owns the laundromat in town, an essential business, and is the town taxi.  That business, she said, has taken a hit.  “I have noticed a significant drop in traffic,” she said, to the tune of about half her business.

But she’s okay with that.  For her, it’s a sacrifice her city should make for its citizens.

“When I have people say ‘We want to do something to help when there is such a need right now,’ I tell them the best thing they can do is stay home and stay safe, because that’s the important thing right now.”

Like it is in Kansas City, people can still go to the grocery store and to the hardware store.

Restaurants can stay open – provided all their food is carry out.  But that really hurts their business.   But when you only have a population of 5,500 hundred people, every single customer counts.

“I understand that everybody needs to be safe,” said Basurto. “However, it’s really putting a hurt, especially on the restaurants.  You look around and you see 20 people at the hardware store, and 100 people at the grocery store. But you can’t have people come in and sit down and eat.”

To that end, communities are pooling resources for small businesses.  

Click here to see what Miami County’s Economic Development is doing.

Click here to see what Southwest Johnson County’s Economic Development Corporation is doing.

And that’s something every Kansas community will have to face come midnight – whether they’re in a rural or urban setting.



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