KANSAS CITY, Mo. — To help stop the spread of the coronavirus, leaders in the Kansas City metro are ordering residents to stay at home.
At a press conference inside Union Station on Saturday, representatives from Jackson, Johnson, Wyandotte Counties and Kansas City, Missouri, reinforced the need for a stay-at-home order, which goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday and lasts at least until April 24.
"Today, despite our differences, we stand and speak united as one, united in the knowledge, understanding and appreciation for the days, weeks and months ahead,” said Jackson County Executive Frank White.
Ed Eilert, of the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners, said the situation is serious.
“It's only with the total cooperation of our community, taking appropriate actions that have been identified by the CDC and our local health officials can we be successful in mitigating the spread,” Eilert said.
The goal of the stay-at-home order is to slow the spread of the coronavirus. It keeps essential businesses like hospitals, grocery stores and banks open. Other non-essential businesses are mandated to close.
The order does not ban residents from venturing out, but officials urged those who choose to go outside to keep a distance of 6 feet from others.
"You can go in the yard with your family, you can barbecue with your family,” White said. “You can do a lot of things that families do, but we just encourage the 10-person limit group gathering, group parties.”
Health officials said this is one of the only options to help slow the spread of the virus.
"Part of the urgency of this stay-at-home order is without the ability to do testing widely across the population and test everyone that has symptoms, like fever, cough, shortness of breath, we need to reduce the spread this way,” said Dr. K. Allen Greiner, MPH, Health Officer for the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, “because it’s unlikely we’ll be able to test everybody and know who has it and who doesn’t.”
In terms of enforcement, businesses that do not comply could face penalties.
“In both of our states fines, often there could be a suspension of business activities,” said Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas.
But officials urged people to self-police to not tie up government resources.
"This isn’t something that we’re trying to force on to people,” Lucas said. “It is something that is making your workforce, your neighbors, your communities safer.”
It’s a global problem, local community leaders are asking for the public’s help in finding a solution.
"Stay strong, stay safe and please stay home,” Greiner said.