We are living in a new world today of Stay at Home. Many businesses are closing or becoming work at home. School is being taught at home. We are being isolated for our own and others protection. Close contact with loved ones is even being prohibited in some cases.
The Federal, State and Local governments have issued guidelines and even orders for us to stay at home. How can we successfully navigate the current circumstances in which we find ourselves individually and collectively?
What Orders Are We Under?
As of Saturday, March 28, 2020 Governor Laura Kelly placed us under a temporary Statewide Stay at Home order. It went into effect at 12:01 AM on Monday, March 30, 2020 and will be in place until at least May 3, 2020.
In Shawnee County we have been under a Safer-at-Home order since Thursday, March 26, 2020 that is in effect until April 26, 2020. Other counties have their own Stay Home orders in place but the statewide order supersedes the locals as long as it is in effect.
Under the Governor’s order Kansans are directed to stay home unless performing the following essential activities:
1) Obtaining food, medicine and other household necessities;
2) Going to and from work at a business or organization performing an essential function as identified in the Kansas Essential Function Framework;
3) Seeking medical care;
4) Caring for children, family members or pets, or caring for a vulnerable person in another location;
5) Engaging in an outdoor activity, provided individuals maintain a distance of six feet from one another and abide by the 10-person limitation on gathering size.
The entire text of the order can be found on the Kansas Department of Health and Environment COVID-19 website. (https://www.coronavirus.kdheks.gov)
Kansas school districts have also been closed for the rest of the calendar year, although many of Shawnee counties districts are continuing classes online. For example, USD 501 – Topeka started teaching virtually on Monday, March 30, 2020.
What Does Stay at Home Mean?
Stay home means just that. Stay in your home except for essential reasons. Use your common sense. We all know what is essential to our survival. Food. We all need to eat. Go to the store. Alone if possible, unless you have no one at your residence to watch your children.
The less we come into contact with others the less at risk we are, and the less we put others at risk as well.
Another thing we need: Exercise. Outdoor activity has not been outlawed. Spring is upon us and the days are much nicer. And, the kids are not at school. But, once again we need to use reason. Based on available data, coronaviruses have a short reach. That is why the Stay-Home order urges us to maintain a six-foot distance from each other and limits us to small gatherings of 10 people or less. Plus, Topeka Parks and Recreation has recommended we limit the use of public facilities in the parks.
Work is another activity that has changed for many of us. Some of us are employed in “essential” business activities. There are links to the lists of what is considered essential businesses that can be found on the KDHE, Shawnee County Health and the Governors’ website but they include:
- Childcare facilities
- Government operations
- Pharmacies, health care supply stores and health care facilities
- Grocery stores and convenience stores
- Agricultural stores or stores that provide essential food and goods for animals
- Gas stations
- Auto repair facilities
- Garbage collection
- Hardware stores, plumbers, electricians, exterminators and other service providers necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operation of residences and other essential businesses
- Educational institutions, for the purposes of facilitating distance learning
- Media outlets
- Laundromats, dry cleaners and laundry service providers
- Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food and goods directly to residences
Most of the businesses on this list are common sense as well. If you have been put out of work, even temporarily, there is help for you. The Kansas Department of Labor has been given direction to extend Unemployment Benefits for longer periods of time and ease the qualifications. There are many resources available at www.dol.ks.gov/covid19response.
The Federal government also has resources for employers and employees at the irs.gov and usa.gov/coronavirus websites to answer many questions and point you to where assistance may be found.
- CDC – www.cdc.gov
- Coronavirus Disease 2019 – www.coronavirus.gov
- Coronavirus Rumor Control (FEMA) – www.fema.gov/Coronavirus-Rumor-Control
- National Institutes of Health – www.nih.gov
- KDHE Resource Center – www.kdheks.gov/coronavirus/COVID-19_Resource_Center.htm
- KDHE COVID-19 Updates – https://www.coronavirus.kdheks.gov
- Shawnee County Health Department – www.snco.us; 785-251-4848
- City of Topeka COVID-19 Info – www.data.topeka.org/pages/covid19information
LOCAL ASSISTANCE OUTLETS
- Catholic Charities of NE Kansas – COVID-19 Disaster Relief: 785-233-6300. All services are free to everyone. https://catholiccharitiesks.org/where-we-work/topeka/
- Topeka Area on Aging – Open for phone calls 785-235-1367. http://www.jhawkaaa.org/
- Meals on Wheels of Eastern Kansas, Inc.: 785-430-2186; 2134 SW Westport Drive; http://www.mowks.org/
- Harvesters Community Food Network: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., 215 SE Quincy Street, Topeka, KS 66603; https://www.harvesters.org/contact
- Expensify: Assists families by reimbursing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) grocery purchases up to $50.
Go to https://www.expensify.org/hunger to donate money or to apply to receive SNAP grocery funds reimbursement.
We will all get through this if we just use our common sense and do not panic. If we think about how our actions affect not only ourselves but others as well, we will make decisions that help us all get through safely and quickly.
By Darcy Childs | Topeka Health & Wellness Magazine
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