Now spread across all 50 states, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a grip on Americans nationwide. The New York Times reported that one in four Americans are being asked to stay home in hopes of limiting the spread of the virus, as there are now over 30,000 reported cases within the United States.
This growth has been driven primarily by Americans with mild symptoms who are carrying and spreading the virus, unaware that they are infected. The virus has contaminated far more people in the US than have been tested so far and, without containment, healthcare providers fear that the virus will overwhelm the medical care system.
Restrictions have already begun taking shape in the past week and have changed the fabric of American life. Schools and restaurants have closed, thousands are working from home and many canceled their upcoming travel plans. Controls such as these should help slow the rate of infection.
Increased efforts are being made by lawmakers in an attempt to contain the issue, with mandatory stay-at-home policies being put in place in many states. Governors of California and New York have ordered all citizens to stay home as much as possible in the coming weeks, given the high density of infected people within their representative regions. New York now faces 15,000 detected cases, the most in the country, and is struggling to contain the outbreak within its state lines.
When addressing the “shelter-in-place” policy at a press conference, Governor Newsom of California emphasized the following statement: “This is not a permanent state, this is a moment in time,” he said. “We will look back at these decisions as pivotal.”
The State Department issued a Level 4 “do not travel” advisory, recommending citizens to avoid any global travel. This is the highest travel advisory the federal government can issue.
Governers acknowledge that people will need to go outside for their physical and mental health. Healthy people can generally leave their homes for exercise, as long as they keep six feet away from others as a social distancing protocol.
It’s unclear how these new containment rules will be enforced, as the number of states restricting travel continues to increase. Violating such rules may possibly lead to fines like those implemented in Spain and Italy.
In many states, non-essential businesses, restaurants and schools have been shut down until further notice. Broadly speaking, the following businesses have been labeled “essential” by respective states, and will remain open:
- Grocers, restaurants offering takeout or delivery, convenience stores, liquor stores (in some states), hardware stores, warehouses and distributors
- Health care providers and pharmacies
- Gas stations, banks, laundromats and dry cleaners
- Child care providers
- Animal shelters and veterinary services
- Utilities, telecommunications and transportation providers
- Auto repair, plumbers and other skilled contractors, construction companies and many kinds of manufacturers
- Funeral homes, crematories and cemeteries
It’s important to note that following these rules will not only ensure your own health and safety, but the health and safety of those around you. Now is not the time to think of yourself, but a time to think about how your actions may impact your community. Stay home, wash your hands and stay informed on your local news.