The Miami County Commission has endorsed an emergency stay-at-home order issued by Dr. Donald Banks, Local Health Officer for Miami County, that covers a 29-day period, beginning Wednesday, March 25.
Public health officials said due to the urgency of the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency and the imminent and rapid progression of the pandemic in the Kansas City metro area, the emergency order directs residents to stay at home except for essential needs.
The emergency order, announced during a special County Commission meeting Monday, March 23, begins at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday and ends at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, April 23. It matches the end date of Johnson County’s stay-at-home order.
Commissioners discussed the time frame for the order. Miami County Health Department Director Rita McKoon said the reason Johnson County and other Kansas City metro entities imposed a 30-day order is because the incubation period for coronavirus is 14 days. If a person started exhibiting symptoms on the 14th day, then that would require another 14-day self quarantine.
Johnson County’s directive went into effect Tuesday, March 24, and that would have given Miami County residents less than 12 hours notice if the local order would have started on the same date.
Also, the commissioners extended an emergency declaration already in place that closed dine-in areas for eateries and limited crowds to no more than 10 people to match the end date of the state-at-home order on April 23.
Before the meeting, Miami County Commission Chairman Rob Roberts said that, even though Miami County still has not had a reported case, this action is prudent because Kansas does not have enough hospital beds to keep up with the pandemic if the virus continues to spread, and there are not enough tests available in the state to know for sure how many people truly have the virus.
“Miami County has worked diligently in the last five or six years to really become a business friendly county, and does not take these actions or recommendations lightly,” Roberts said during the special meeting.
Roberts said the county apologizes for the effect the order could have on entities across the county.
“But we do not apologize for our desire to keep citizens safe, our desire to keep them healthy, our desire to stop this virus in every aspect. We apologize for none of that,” he said. “Our hope is that not a single citizen catches this virus.”
Roberts said for those who pray to a higher power to pray to put an end to this virus and protect people.
Roberts, who is also chair of the Mid-America Regional Council’s board of directors, said the directive mirrors the one put into place recently by counties to the north.
The order provides definitions and exemptions for essential services and businesses. For a complete list, see the Miami County Health Department’s Facebook page. The document and other recent directives issued by the county are available by clicking the emergency alert tab at the top of Miami County’s website: www.miamicountyks.org.
Those seeking enforcement of the emergency order, or have questions, should contact their company human resources or legal departments. Otherwise, contact their municipal police department.
Some essential services include healthcare operations, essential infrastructure, and essential government functions. Examples of essential businesses that will remain open during this time period include critical government services, infrastructure projects, childcare, healthcare, grocery stores, pharmacies, delivery/carry-out/drive-through services from restaurants, and financial institutions.
Where possible, all essential businesses shall take proactive measures to ensure compliance with social distancing requirements.
Cass County approved a similar emergency order on Monday.
Miami and Cass counties joined several other government entities in the Kansas City metro area that have already issued the stay-at-home directive.
Beginning Tuesday, March 24, residents of Jackson County, Mo.; Johnson County, Kan.; Kansas City, Mo.; and the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kan., will be directed to stay at home except for essential needs, according to an announcement from the CORE 4 partners Saturday, March 21.
The decision was made based on the “urgency of the COVID-19 public health emergency and the imminent rapid progression of the pandemic in our area,” according to the release.
All jurisdictions will issue orders that will stay in effect for 30 days from the effective date of March 24, with consideration after 30 days of whether to prolong these orders beyond that date, based on public health and critical care metrics available at that time, according to the release.