Editorial: Coronavirus

Lyle Griggs

I spent part of spring break in Louisiana. When I arrived, everything was fairly normal, although coronavirus dominated the news. Then the stock market tanked, oil prices plummeted further and the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. By the time I flew home (stretching out in an empty row on a half-empty plane), the world had changed dramatically. Just after touchdown in Kansas City, I received an email from Mr. Rios confirming that school was delayed for at least a week. By the time I finished unpacking, it was clear that everyone’s lives would change dramatically, at least temporarily.

Like many Americans, my views on how the pandemic should be handled have evolved dramatically since it first reached the United States. When the first colleges announced that they would be sending students home, I was incredulous. I could not understand why such a move would be necessary, given that college students are generally young and relatively healthy. When my sister’s college announced the same decision, I was furious. “How could they do that to students?” I asked. “We aren’t paying for Khan Academy,” my parents grumbled, referring to the online classes that my sister would now take. I considered it all an overreaction and thought that closures were based more on social pressure than legitimate health concerns.

I was wrong, and it embarrasses me to recall how I used to feel about necessary steps to curtail the spread of coronavirus. But even after my outlook changed and I began to take coronavirus more seriously, I questioned Kansas Governor Laura Kelly’s leadership. She was the first governor in the country to cancel all K-12 schools for the semester, a decision that seemed extreme. 

I was wrong about that, too. In fact, Kelly spared us a painful wait in limbo for a decision on school cancellations. Given that most of America is now under some sort of social-distancing order, Kansas would have made this decision eventually. A delay would have made things worse. Her statewide stay-at-home order is also necessary, regardless of how I felt about it initially; to avoid overburdening our healthcare system, we must take drastic steps to limit virus transmission.

It took me a while, but I now understand just how seriously we need to take this. Governments and individuals must take drastic steps to limit social interaction and slow the spread of the pandemic before our healthcare system collapses. I am glad that we Kansans have a forward-thinking leader at the helm and that we have taken major steps towards stopping the spread of coronavirus. I hope that the more stubborn parts of the country will follow suit.