LIBERTY – Ray and Clay counties have issued coronavirus-prompted emergency declarations, and the Clay County Health Department announced three confirmed cases of COVID-19.
The Clay County Health Department issued a “stay at home” order through Friday, April 24.
Ray County Presiding Commissioner Bob King and Allen Dale on Tuesday issued an emergency order that affects businesses, including restaurants, which now are required to close their dining rooms, though they can still offer takeout and delivery services.
“They’re going to have to close down, except for delivery,” King said.
Commissioner Jerry Bishop opposed the order because he did not wish to shut down businesses.
King said the commissioner acted on expert advice.
“We went through the health department,” King said.
Although county authority does not always extend into cities, in this case the commission’s order will apply to city businesses, he said.
The commission order includes hair care establishments, some of which have ignored warnings and chose to stay open during the crisis, King said.
The emergency declarations by Clay and Ray counties followed the federal state of emergency order issued March 13.
Making the declaration at the county level clears the way for federal assistance, King said. The county’s original declaration, March 19, did not order businesses to close.
While the emergency is in effect, the Ray County Courthouse doors will remain closed.
“They’ll be locked,” King said. “The people will be here.”
“The people” are defined as county officeholders. All county workers have been sent home until further notice, with the exception being those who work for the Sheriff’s Office, and the Road and Bridge Department.
King said commissioners have been meeting with Emergency Services Director Carl Harper almost daily to address any changes involving the virus.
“We’ll make decisions accordingly,” he said.
Some Lawson residents have been tested for possible coronavirus, Bishop said, but there have been no confirmed cases in the county to date.
Clay County Presiding Commissioner Jerry Nolte issued a state of emergency March 17.
“This is a necessary step to access assistance under the federal Stafford Act. The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act) is a United States federal law designed to bring an orderly and systematic means of federal natural disaster assistance for state and local governments in carrying out their responsibilities to aid citizens,” the Clay County proclamation states.
The Clay County Public Health Center announced the three confirmed cases of COVID-19 are unrelated to each other and none of the individuals had traveled recently, indicating “community spread” is occurring.
“Unfortunately, COVID-19 continues to spread across the Kansas City metro area and Clay County is no exception,” Public Health Director Gary E. Zaboracs said. “We want to make it clear to everyone that prevention against COVID-19 should be taken seriously. At this time, we are asking everyone follow the shelter-in-place order to protect our families, friends and neighbors, and help to keep our health care facilities from being overwhelmed.”
The Clay County Health Department urges the public …
• To stay home, except to perform “essential activities”;
• To stay home if at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19, except as necessary to seek medical care and to obtain provision of essential life items;
• To exercise social distancing requirements at all times;
• To cease all non-essential business and other activities;
• To cease all in-person business operations.
For the latest updates and guidance, visit clayhealth.com/coronavirus.