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What good are numbers anyway?
It’s what’s behind the numbers that counts
Veronica Coons editorial April 2020
Veronica Coons

As the economy reopens, “backlash” has become a fairly popular word. There’s backlash against reopening, and there’s backlash against the backlash as well. With all the backlashing going on, it’s a wonder anyone is willing to actually say anything about anything. Silence, however, isn’t the answer either. 

Concerns over potential lawsuits has many businesses wondering if it’s even worth it to reopen at this time. Others can’t imagine how they will survive if they have to remain closed much longer. And still others would like to reopen, but will have to wait until they can get a hold of PPE and sanitizing supplies they will need in order to keep employees and customers safe.

While this is all very frustrating on so many levels, it’s important to keep in mind that none of us — the general public, business owners, our political leaders — have ever had to navigate these waters before, and we’re all just winging it and seeing what happens next. 

This week, Kansas began Phase One of Governor Laura Kelly’s four phase reopening plan. In Great Bend, we also saw the number of cases of COVID-19 jump from nine to 19 as of Saturday afternoon. We know little about the 10 new cases, other than some are located in the city of Great Bend, or in rural Great Bend. 

Friday, the Barton County's Donna Zimmerman announced it would no longer be issuing press releases when new cases are confirmed. 

“You can access the information by visiting: and clicking the COVID-19 link in the upper left hand corner of the home page,” the emailed communication stated. 

It’s troubling that in less than one week the number of cases in the county exceeded the total number of cases confirmed between March 13 and May 3. Now more than ever, as the country begins to emerge from their homes, we need information to help guide us as we plan our day. Yes, social distancing and good hygiene need to continue to be observed, and yes, there are many among us asymptomatic and shedding the virus without realizing it. 

Numbers without context are worthless. We need to know if a surge is occurring in a location or facility where containment is possible, or if it is widespread throughout the community and various age groups before we can determine if it is safe to step foot into a restaurant or a salon. 

We urge the state and local governments to find a way to balance privacy with the information the public needs to get back to work.