Officials push safety precautions as possibility of 2nd shutdown looms

Posted at 6:13 PM, Jun 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-26 20:15:24-04

KANSAS CITY, MO — The Governor of Texas has closed bars and ordered restaurants to scale back on capacity limitations due to an increase in COVID-19 cases, not just in the Lone Star State, but all across the country.

In Kansas, for example, Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Dr. Lee Norman said between Monday and Friday morning this week, the state saw 1,072 new cases.

Meanwhile, on the Missouri side, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas announced Friday afternoon face masks will be required in public.

So, could this be a sign of more restrictions to come?

State health officials don't think so, at least not yet.

Missouri Health and Senior Services Director Dr. Randall Williams said they look at a variety of factors, which include hospital and ventilator availability, now at an all-time high during the pandemic. He said they also look at the positivity rate, or the number of people who are positive for COVID-19 out of the total number of people tested.

"The goal nationally is to keep that under 10%, and really keep it under 5%. And we're at about 4% now. So, that's a very good thing that only 4% of our tests are positive," Williams said.

Norman said it's a similar situation across the border in Kansas, although he and health officials are still preaching the need for social distancing and warning against mass gatherings.

"We don't have plans to do further stay-at-home or highly restrictive activities at this time. But, with Fourth of July coming up and the state fair and county fairs under consideration, we are worried about that," Norman said.

Local businesses such as The Wings Cafe in Gladstone, Missouri, are hoping for the best but prepared for the worst. With two locations, owner Lee Redwood said they still haven't opened up indoor dining, continuing to rely on carryout and curbside pickups.

"I do feel as though with us having to scale back if that is necessary, it wouldn't be a problem. In fact, we have been somewhat hesitant to open our doors completely just because of that reason," he said.

Redwood acknowledged the possibility of limits on indoor dining is a scary prospect for many fellow business owners.

"I have several friends that are in the restaurant business and they've done pretty well with carryout and curbside and delivery. But, there is some concern that if they do have to close the lobbies again there might be some loss of business," Redwood said.

Mayor Lucas has stressed he doesn't want to get to that point but said taking basic safety precautions is crucial not just in the Kansas City area, but across the region.

"We don't want to stay at home again. We don't want mass business shutdowns. We don't want strict capacity limits. But I fear we might get to that if we don't stop the spread and increase," Lucas said.