LIBERTY, Mo. — Clay County officials made big waves on Wednesday, as they announced their decision to shorten their stay at home order to May 3.
But the decision comes with mixed reactions.
Staying home has become the new normal. However, Clay County insists it’s ready to begin phase one of the reopening process.
“We’ve already started our drive-thru operations, so testing was a big key to us,” said Gary Zaborac, Clay County’s public health director. “But the modeling also showed that the peak has gotten past us here in Missouri. It was a combination of all those things.”
According to the White House, state and local officials should meet several guidelines — like seeing a two-week decline in documented cases and hospitals being able to treat all patients without crisis care — before proceeding to open.
The county’s health department has recorded 155 COVID-19 cases and two deaths as of Thursday. Clay County said its number of new cases has remained flat over the last several weeks.
“We are constantly looking at the data, in terms of the hospitalization data, the death data, the case counts. We look at that every day,” Zaborac said.
Local business owner Angelo Gangai is happy about the accelerated timeline.
“First reaction was, ‘Hallelujah, thank goodness,'” Gangai said.
Right now Chappell’s is closed for remodeling, but they are ready to get back to work.
“But I think as responsible restaurant owners and partners, if we can keep first our employees healthy and safe, I think we have a really good way of keeping everyone safe,” Gangai said.
Kanas City, Missouri, Mayor, Quinton Lucas shared his thoughts on Clay County’s move on Twitter Wednesday.
“Less than one week ago, every health director in our nine bi-state region advised our region’s stay-at-home order remain in place until May 15 … I’m not sure what has changed as a metro,” Lucas said.
Mayor Lucas statement on Clay, Cass Counties' Stay-at-Home Order revisions: pic.twitter.com/ExrWTG9W94
— Mayor Quinton Lucas (@MayorLucasKC) April 23, 2020
Part of Kansas City is in Clay County. People living and working under Kansas City’s jurisdiction will continue to be under stay-at-home orders.
Meanwhile, Clay County is standing firm in its decision.
“The virus is everywhere. The virus does also not know any borders. So I don’t know that we could say for certainty that just because somebody from another drove here that that somehow changes or increases the risk,” Zaborac said.
Clay County officials said everything won’t open immediately. But they are drafting up a plan on how to ease people back into normal life.