A medical assistant wears a Power Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR) hood while taking a nasal swab from a patient identified as coronavirus disease (The Outbreak of COVID -19) will continue on November 14, 2020 in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.
Bing Guan | Reuters
Coronavirus cases are rife in the U.S., and a handful of states and cities are closing non-essential businesses, restricting public and private gatherings, and imposing mask mandates to slow the rapid spread before the winter season.
The US reports a weekly average of approximately 157,318 new coronavirus cases per day and is reaching record highs as scientists warn Americans about it the next couple of months the pandemic could be the worst yet. Unlike other peaks in spring and summer, which hit the northeast and the sun belt particularly hard, this peak does not have a clear epicenter, according to medical experts. Some state and city officials say the virus is everywhere; Local outbreaks cannot be traced back to a single event or venue.
Without a coherent federal plan, state and local officials are reinstating some of the orders, curfews, and other public safety measures that were reversed in the summer and fall.
Kate Brown, an Oregon Democrat, announced Friday a “two-week” freeze on most activities and non-essential businesses across the state. I do that one of the first to reintroduce widespread closures from non-essential companies. Brown restricted take-out-only restaurants, closed gyms, fitness centers, and indoor and outdoor event centers, including participation in places of worship.
In New Mexico, Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a Twitter post that the state will hit “reset” and begin a nationwide stay at home order on Monday. Residents are instructed to stay home unless they venture out on essential services for two weeks.
Jay Inslee, a Washington Democrat, followed suit on Sunday. Order a one-month ban on indoor services in restaurants and gyms and reduced retail capacity in the store to 25%. Later that day, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer banned personal high school and college classes and indoor dining services for three weeks.
“We are at the worst moment of this pandemic,” said Democrat Whitmer at a press conference. “The situation has never been this bad. We are on the brink and must do something.”
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI) speaks during an event with U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden (not pictured) on October 16, 2020 at Beech Woods Recreation Center in Southfield, Michigan, United States.
Tom Brenner | Reuters
The U.S. crossed 100,000 new Covid-19 cases for the first time on election day, and cases have continued to rise to record highs since then. That put the hospitals at full capacity and led heads of state like California Governor Gavin Newsom to pull back on reopening efforts. According to the Covid Tracking Project carried out by journalists in the Atlantic, there were 76,823 Covid-19 patients in hospital as of Tuesday.
Newsom, a Democrat, said Monday that when it reopens, his state will “pull the emergency brakes” and ban most non-essential indoor businesses for much of the state’s population. The Democratic governor also came up with the idea of introducing a nationwide curfew.
Many governors and mayors have made it clear that they do not want to close the economy again, as many did in March and April at the start of the outbreak.
“Instead of that on / off switch, we have to think of it as a dimmer or a dial that you’re using to tighten the restrictions. You’re relaxing the restrictions very much in line with what’s going on in terms of broadcasting in the community,” said Dr. Celine Gounder, infectious disease specialist at NYU’s Grossman School of Medicine and coronavirus advisor to the President-elect Joe Biden.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot asked everyone on Thursday Residents to cancel Thanksgiving plans and stay home unless they have to go to work or school, or attend to essential needs like a doctor’s appointment or grocery shopping. She issued a no-obligation 30-day stay at home recommendation, urging people not to travel, have guests in their home, or leave for unnecessary business.
New Jersey Democratic Governor Phil Murphy said state officials acted “more precisely” last week to introduce a series of targeted restrictions.
“To be clear, the last thing I or any of us want to do is shut our economy down,” he said. Restaurants, bars, and casinos must close their indoor dining areas at 10:00 p.m. On Monday, he ordered an indoor gathering limit of just 10 people. “We are taking surgical steps that we hope will help reduce the current rate of spread.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks out on Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) on November 15, 2020 at Riverside Church in Manhattan, New York City, United States.
Andrew Kelly | Reuters
Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced similar new restrictions in his state, issuing a 10pm. Curfew for bars, restaurants and gyms and private gatherings limited to 10 people. Cuomo had warned last week that more restrictions might be on the way. He and other governors of the Northeast held an “emergency” meeting last weekend to outline their new measures.
“We’ve had a terrible eight months. We’re in this last little round. Let’s just do what we have to do to get through and then we’ll put it back together,” Cuomo told reporters on a call last week.
Meanwhile New York schools will close classrooms and move students Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in a Twitter post on Wednesday that the city would hit its positivity threshold of 3% as of Thursday, based on a weekly average.
“We have to fight the second wave of COVID-19,” de Blasio said in the post.
Even Republican governors, many of whom have long resisted statewide bans and mask requirements, are imposing curfews and starting to wear face-covers on residents in public.
Governor Mike DeWine in Columbus, Ohio.
Justin Merriman | Getty Images
Mike DeWine, a Republican from Ohio, was reinstated a nationwide mask mandate with stricter enforcement Actions for Business on Thursday.
“When we wear a mask, we keep our children in school and we protect our elderly and we protect our hospitals,” DeWine told CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday.
In Iowa, Governor Kim Reynolds, a Republican who has long resisted making a national mask requirement ordered residents over 2 years to wear face coverings in a public space starting Tuesday. North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, a Republican who also opposed the introduction of a mask mandate, ordered residents to cover their faces in public late last week.
In Utah, people will have to wear face-coverings “until further notice,” Republican Governor Gary Herbert admitted during one Video address posted on Twitter on November 8th.
“Masks do not have a negative impact on our economy and wearing them is the easiest way to slow the spread of the virus,” he said. “We can no longer afford to discuss this issue.”
A national lockdown of businesses and schools is a “last resort,” said Dr. Vivek Murthy, a former US surgeon general who led Biden’s Covid-19 advisory group, told Fox News Sunday. Murthy noted that all action was taken at this stage of the pandemic would look different than the curved latches These states were enacted in the spring to suppress the virus.
“We didn’t know much about Covid in the spring. We kind of responded with an on-off switch. We just turned things off because we didn’t know exactly how it was spreading or where it was spreading. But we’ve had a lot more since then learned, “he said.
However, if an outbreak gets out of hand, gyms, bars, and restaurants are likely to have to adhere to tighter restrictions as the risk of the virus spreading is higher, said Dr. Andrew Pavia, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Utah Health. Mask mandates should also have some “teeth”, such as allowing companies to turn customers away if they aren’t wearing them, he said.
“When – like in many, many states – you have a really runaway outbreak, you need to increase the level of control you use,” Pavia said during a November 11th, America press conference for the Infectious Diseases Society. “And you just have to look at the countries that did a really good job to get a feel for how you can do this without resorting to terms like lockdown, a term I’ll never want to use again.”