If you’ve been a subscriber for a while, you may have noticed that we’ve recently broken some of our own rules at the Christian County Headliner News when it comes to covering the COVID-19 pandemic.
We’ve been mentioning Springfield, a lot, and we’ve quoted people from Springfield with Springfield interests in our stories.
Long before I ever wrote for this newspaper, the powers that be made it clear that the Christian County Headliner News covered Christian County, and that means news specific to Springfield stays off the pages.
I’ve broken that rule for COVID-19 because what’s being done in Springfield is of high influence and importance to the people making decisions in Ozark, Nixa, Clever and the rest of our county.
The coronavirus does not observe or recognize county lines. COVID-19 defense was not done inside a vacuum of a county that closed off all traffic going in and out. Likewise, COVID-19 recovery — both in a public health policy and economic sense — will not occur in a vacuum. Recovery will be regionalized. Springfield and Greene County will continue to influence their outlying neighbors, just as decisions made in Ozark will influence decisions made in Nixa, and vice-versa.
Ozark Mayor Rick Gardner understands that people are frustrated. They are upset that governments at the state, county and city level are all issuing orders and updates to their orders, and some people aren’t sure which orders they are supposed to follow at any given moment. That's why, he said, Ozark and Nixa have worked to issue their orders and updates on the same days and times.
“There have been continuous updates across the board during this unfortunate pandemic and, at times, information can become overwhelming. However, Ozark has been working together with the city of Nixa to come up with a synonymous plan which not only protects our communities, but also begins the journey back to normalcy and a vitalized economy," Gardner said.
Beginning in February 2020, Christian County has experienced more than 4,000 people filing unemployment claims. It’s worse in Greene County, where it’s estimated that more than 12,000 residents are claiming unemployment.
It will be August before true data for Christian County’s economic performance from April is available to decision makers. Until then, they will have to work off of “an estimate of an estimate.”
Dr. David Mitchell is a professor of economics, the director of both the Bureau of Economic Research and the Center for Economic Education at Missouri State University and a resident of Christian County. He provided stakeholders with some crucial facts and figures about the COVID-19 pandemics economic impact on Christian County and the rest of Missouri with an online presentation given April 23, put on by the Show Me Christian County economic development group. We in Christian County are part of one of the strongest economic regions of the Missouri.
“Southwest Missouri was basically the growth driver for a lot of the state. Now, that’s kind of started to shift a little bit toward Kansas City. That’s not because southwest Missouri is not growing, it’s because Kansas City has basically caught back up,” Mitchell said.
If you work in Springfield, and at least 75 percent of us who live in Christian County do, you’re going to help yourself out by learning the rules and reasoning behind Springfield’s COVID-19 spread prevention orders, which you’ll work under until June 1.
“As we work on these plans, we listen to many voices, advisors from across our county and our region and we listen to our citizens,” Greene County Presiding Commissioner Bob Dixon said.
If they are listening to us, the least we can do is listen to them. You don’t have to take every word as a commandment, but you can at least hear the words and process them.
Recently, we felt encouraged about COVID-19 recovery with these parting words from Springfield Mayor Ken McClure.
“When we are finished going through this, we should be tougher, smarter, more resilient and more unified than ever before,” McClure said. “While we do our best to shape what lies ahead, we are resolute in our ability to persevere.”