City of Ellsworth preparing for state reopening

BY BRADEN HOLECEK

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly announced the stay-at-home order would be lifted today — albeit with restrictions. Reopening will come in phases in her newly updated plan.

Ellsworth Mayor Mark Kennedy had many thoughts, mostly positive, with how Ellsworth residents have handled the situation, which dates back to mid-March.

“For the most part, I feel our citizens have done a tremendous job handling all of the restrictions, executive orders and changes to daily life,” Kennedy said. “When the governor’s stay at home order started, our governing body approved an ordinance at the suggestion of the city attorney that would make violating a quarantine order a Class C misdemeanor. To my knowledge, that has not come into play once. I have nothing but praise for our local (essential) small business owners that have found ways to adapt to continue serving customers, and customers seem extremely pleased with that level of service.”

With this new update from the governor, there is a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. There are constant challenges and steps that must be taken to fully reach that point as well, however.

“The reopening plan from the governor is honestly more detailed than I expected,” Kennedy said. “My hope is that Ellsworth citizens and Kansans can use that plan as motivation to stick with the current precautionary measures to ensure that the different phases can occur on or close to the dates presented by the governor. A vast majority of the people that I have spoken with are eager to be with friends or get away for the weekend.

“But, most people understand that this is the new reality we live in, and COVID-19 will not go away overnight. We have to protect our most vulnerable citizens while providing opportunity for young, healthy individuals to return to ‘normal’ life.”

What will this update do for the citizens? More importantly, how does it make them feel moving forward?

There is a sense of “anxiousness,” Kennedy said.

“We all want to be social, plan our summer vacations and simply go out to eat. If we all do our part along the way, this update can provide us with that goal,” he said.

Ellsworth has been fortunate to not have a single confirmed case of COVID-19

“From the local government perspective, I see cases from other countries or states (New York) as a negative,” Kennedy said. “It sure makes it tough to convince people that staying home is the best thing to do when no cases are confirmed.”

Because everything has been unpredictable, it is important for residents to know the reopening plan can see fallbacks, too. Those unfortunate changes would alter plans if the status changes, especially for a smaller town like Ellsworth.

“This certainly could change if/when we have a confirmed case(s),” Kennedy said. “Given Ellsworth’s proximity to major highways and with the number of people entering and leaving the county every day for work, the possibility still does exist that we could have multiple confirmed cases before the governor’s reopening plan is complete.”

Kennedy said he has no particular thoughts or opinions on how Kelly has handled the pandemic.

“As an elected official, you understand that there will always be a level of criticism that comes with the job,” he said. “But no one could have imagined navigating our way through a situation like COVID-19.”

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