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It will take more than dedicated health care professionals to get us all through the coronavirus crisis. They’re uppermost in folks’ minds right now, of course, and rightly so. We need the frontline health care workers to ensure that those grappling with the virus receive the best possible care.
But the economic toll of the spreading virus has been immense, striking businesses large and small, spiking jobless claims and suggesting we’re in for a turbulent period. That’s why we’re delighted to know that Commerce Secretary David Toland is on the case.
Toland no doubt thought his job was going to be different when he was confirmed to the post a year ago this month. At the time, the United States was experiencing one of the largest economic expansions of its history, and Kansas was rebounding from the self-inflicted wounds of former Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax policy.
The job, then, was going to be about making sure more Kansans and Kansas businesses shared in the prosperity that was sweeping the land.
In the matter of a month, that’s all changed. And the Department of Commerce’s reaction shows that Toland is still the right man for the job.
The department has launched a program offering $20,000 short-term loans, at no interest, to affected industries that need urgent help to stay afloat. The money will come from a fund meant to encourage businesses to locate in our state, Toland says. The $5 million in total could be augmented in the future (and based on recent events, it may well need to be).
But Toland and his department have done more. While the coronavirus has caused a crisis for businesses, it has also created a pressing one for workers as well. So many folks across the state want a job — any job — to provide for their families during this challenging time.
The department’s new website, kansasworks.com/coronavirus, allows employers in essential industries to post jobs, and for potential employees to find them. This work isn’t for everyone, of course.
During this uncertain time, those at higher risk for complications from the virus would be well-advised to follow public health warnings and stay at home. Unemployment insurance has been expanded, and the federal government is sending out cash payments.
But for those with needed skills who want to contribute, the website is sure to be a valuable resource.
Toland should be commended for understanding that the coronavirus has affected us at all levels, and that all levels deserve a smart and compassionate government response.