Rebuilding after a natural disaster is straightforward. You roll up your sleeves, clear the debris and start over. You look to your community and hold one another close.


Rebuilding amid a pandemic of historic proportions is something else altogether.


As Kansas businesses reopen and welcome back customers, they’re not installing new windows or collecting tree branches. Instead, they’re laboring to show that they’re taking public health seriously. They’re making sure faces are covered and space between customers is preserved. They’re making sure their premises are disinfected regularly.


And they’re doing all this while the virus is still exacting a toll. To extend the analogy, business owners are reopening while the storm still threatens outside. Yes, the winds have slowed and the rain stopped lashing the pavement. But the sky is still dark, and the possibility of further severe weather looms.


We’ve never asked this of our business community before.


But they’re forging ahead, we’re forging ahead, because even public health officials like Anthony Fauci believe that the country has to get moving again. It won’t look like it did before, but it’s important for people’s livelihoods and mental health to gradually and safely reopen.


We understand that not everyone will be on board with this approach. Some members of the public want to believe, despite all the evidence, that the threat of COVID-19 was overblown and that they have the right to traipse hither and yon, disregarding advice meant to keep us all safe.


They’re wrong, and businesses are well within their rights to deny service to those who put themselves ahead of their state and country.


But we firmly believe that the vast majority — public and businesses alike — want to do the right thing. This majority might not be demonstrating outside a statehouse, because they’re keeping safe while staying at home. For these members of the public and business owners, rebuilding will be careful and step by step.


Each move will be assessed against high-quality advice. If scientific knowledge and guidance changes, so will they.


Above all, this rebuilding will be rooted in confidence.


Everyone needs to feel safe and protected when they leave their homes. Everyone needs to feel as though a trip to the store doesn’t man taking an unacceptable risk. It will take us time to get there and build that confidence statewide. It will take us time to rebuild securely.


But we know that Kansans are up to the challenge. Be safe, be well, and above all, be strong.