One in five Americans ordered to stay home as more states go on lockdown

New York State, Illinois and Connecticuton followed California on Friday ordering tens of millions to stay at home in the most drastic social distancing measures ever imposed on the increasingly intense campaign to to slow down the transmission of the coronavirus.

Unprecedented restrictions, affecting more than 75 million people, or nearly a quarter of the U.S. population, force most workplaces to close and force residents to stay indoors, except for travel to grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations and other “essential businesses”.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has said he plans to issue similar directives in the next 24 hours.

“To avoid the loss of tens of thousands of lives, we must order immediate shelter there,” Illinois governor JB Pritzker said on Friday, using a term that generally refers to self-protection measures taken during massive shootings. Illinois, which includes Chicago, has recorded 585 illnesses including five deaths.

Even though an increasing number of ordinary Americans have been ordered to remain alone, the pandemic has approached the highest levels of power in the nation’s capital.

An assistant to US Vice President Mike Pence, head of the White House task force formed to fight the epidemic, tested positive for the virus, but neither President Donald Trump nor Pence had any contact. close to the person, said Pence’s press secretary Katie Miller in a statement Friday.

The five states where governors have banned or will soon ban non-essential businesses and require residents to stay at home represent about 31% of the U.S. economy, the largest in the world.

In Central Park in New York, several bikers and joggers were on the trails, most of them alone but a few in pairs.

“It’s real and it’s scary, I hate it,” said Kerry Cashin, 49, a physiotherapist with the order to stay home. “I feel like I always knew it was going to be like this, but it scared me.”

Only two dozen people have gathered outside the Dolby Theater in Hollywood in Los Angeles, home of the Oscars, and are normally crowded with hundreds of tourists.

Zane Alexander, 27, said he was about to collect his last paycheck “until the Lord knows when.” He worked on the street team of a medical marijuana dispensary, but the group was dissolved until further notice.

“This is completely understandable,” said Alexander, adding, “I really wish it wasn’t.”

Retired Jerry Rasmussen, 73, sat on a sunny public bench reading the San Francisco Chronicle in the Cole Valley district of that city, with hand sanitizer, gloves and a mask next to him.

“I think being outside like that is pretty safe, as long as I’m not too close to anyone,” he said.

Fans required

Cuomo, in issuing the New York Home Stay Directive, said his condition of nearly 20 million people is facing a shortage of medical personnel and supplies such as ventilators and protective masks while he is struggling with a public health crisis threatening to overwhelm his health system.

“The fans for this war are what the missiles were for the Second World War,” said Cuomo, adding that the state “would pay a premium” for additional stocks of personal protective equipment. He urged companies capable of manufacturing such products to “be creative”.

The global coronavirus pandemic has crippled much of the economy and disrupted lifestyles across the United States in the past week, shutting down schools and businesses, prompting millions of people to work from home and forcing many unemployed people to reduce their trips.

Health ordinances announced Thursday by California Governor Gavin Newsom regarding the state’s 40 million people allow exercise outside as long as people are within 6 feet of each other.

“I wish he had done it a week ago,” said David Anderson, 42, a screenwriter and television director, standing in line at a drugstore in the suburbs of Glendale in Los Angeles to buy anti-nausea medication for his 12-year-old wife. -week pregnant and at home with their young son. “I guess I am shocked that it took so long for these measures to be put in place.”

The total number of known infections in the United States has surpassed 18,000, including at least 250 deaths on Friday evening, the increase in cases in the past few days reflecting an increase in diagnostic tests. Health experts estimate that the actual number of COVID-19 cases is much higher.

Nearly 1,200 cases have been confirmed in California, where at least 23 people have died. New York State has reported 39 deaths out of nearly 8,000 cases, more than half of which were in New York, the country’s largest metropolis. Its second and third are Los Angeles and Chicago.

Washington State, which documented the first known American coronavirus case in January and now has the highest number of deaths – 83 on Friday – has closed bars, restaurants, and recreational and entertainment facilities since March 16. entertainment, and banned all gatherings of more than 50 people.

Connecticut, which confirmed its fourth coronavirus death from 194 infections on Friday, has become the last state to unveil a “stay safe, stay home” program calling on all non-essential businesses to close for the foreseeable future.

State directives, reflecting what many local governments across the country had recently imposed, were mostly issued without strict enforcement mechanisms to back them up.

“Summons and arrests are an option, but it is obviously a last resort,” New York police commissioner Dermot Shea told reporters, saying the authorities would focus on urging New Yorkers to follow the new rules.

(REUTERS)