by Kevin Stoda, Kansas City (Mo)
The metropolitan area of Kansas City includes 6 different counties and within its boundaries, peoples are suffering due to the corona virus pandemic. However, due to wealth, history of trauma, and a difference in governors, the way peoples are responding to the real terror of the virus are quite varied.
One of the richest counties in the USA is Johnson County. It's on the Kansas side. To the north of Johnson County is Wyandotte Countyone of the more biological and traumatized populations in the USA due to high immigration rates and pollutions over centuries in the local soil and air.
Kansas City, Missouri is located east of Stateline Road. Kansas City Missouri is where the Chiefs play. Kansas City proper is mostly located in Jackson County but the metroplex goes through Clay County, Cass County and Platte County. These areas outside of Jackson County are generally wealthier than in most parts of Kansas City in this 21st Cetnury, and these counties are where white flight ended from Kansas City during the last half of the 20th Century.
Where I live in Kansas City, Missouri is where the red-lining in the region began just over a century ago with the Troost Street Corridor located a mile and a half to my West. In our neighborhood, we have poverty and we have many more run-down homes and neighborhoods than in the richest parts of town, such as Briarcrest and the Plaza.
In my section of town, we have water quality issues and a history of industrial, railroad, & mining contaminations. These contaminations and water tragedies are possiblynot as severe as in Flint or Detroit, but they are enough of an issue that we always worry about our biological health.
Meanwhile, the largest VA hospital in Kansas City can be seen from my backyard. 20 years of endless wars leads to suicides in its parking lo t. In short, we are a depressed or traumatized people facing biological stress on a daily basis.
Perhaps, because of our awareness of where we live (East of Troost) and our sense of fragility in the greater scheme of things, our less wealthy community takes the calls to stay home more seriously than our friends and relatives in the suburban counties of Greater Kansas City.
Here in my neighborhood during this lock-down, few children are seen in the streets and grocery stores are usually sparse. Every other day, a veteran with the corona virus arrives from all corners of the region to be treated at the VA Hospital down the hill from us.
In contrast, the streets of the wealthier neighborhoods of the metropolis witness too many shopper in the stores at all hours of the day and children can be observed in parade-like fashion playing or riding in their streets. In short, the suburbs do not appear to be taking the virus as seriously as we do. Why is this?
ARRIVAL OF COVID-19
On March 7, the first case of Covid -19 arrived in Johnson County. Before the week was over, the first death from Covid-19 occurred in Wyandotte County. The governor of Kansas acted quickly and soon thereafter nearly 10 counties, including Johnson County, in Kansas had stay-at-home orders.
Wyandotte County did not fully follow implement the stay-at-home directions of Governor Laura Kelly (KS) until March 24 when the Democratic governor used an executive order to force all counties and towns in Kansas to follow the stay-at-home and social distancing order she'd made earlier. Two days ago, after denying and dilly-dollying for weeks, the GOP-led legislature of Kansas was finally on the same page and were willing to fully back Governor Kelly's stand in an official statement.
Meanwhile, the Johnson County Council, on its own initiative, has ordered $400,000 dollars of extra testing kits for the county to bolster the belated arrival of kits via government agencies. Across the Kansas river in Kansas City (Missouri). the Mayor Quinton Lucas has been almost as active as the Kansas Governor Kelly has been in implementing policies to protect its citizens.
On March 13, Mayor Lucas had closed the public and charter schools of the city and by May 24, the city was completely under a stay-at-home order. There has been resistance as unemployment rose sharply. Some 200 businesses have already received citations for violating the stay-at-home order. In short, Lucas administration has been much more intolerant of those not willing to promote social-distancing demanded by the CDC than has the Governor of Missouri, Mike Parsons. In our neighborhood, Central High School parking lot stays open to serve drive through lunch and breakfast to neighborhood kids/families.
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