"Every Day We Delay, More People Will Die": States Go On Lockdown Over Coronavirus
Governors across the country are enacting strict measures as public health officials emphasize the need for social distancing to stop the spread of the virus.
As the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus continues to climb in the United States, governors are moving to close bars and restaurants to the public in a bid to stop the spread.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced on March 15 that he is ordering all bars and restaurants in the state to close starting at 9 pm Sunday.
"I'm aware that this will impact many, many good workers. I can't tell you how sorry I am, but we will work to mitigate the suffering," the governor tweeted. "It is our goal for everyone to get through this. Every day we delay, more people will die. If we do not act and get some distance between people, our healthcare system in #Ohio will not hold up. The loss won't only be those impacted by #COVID19, but the danger is also to everyone else who needs hospital care for other issues."
Around the same time, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker announced that he is ordering all bars and restaurants closed to the public starting at the close of business on Monday, March 16, and extending at least through March 30.
Feeling the pressure many elected officials are facing, Pritzker tweeted, "There are no easy decisions to make as we address this unprecedented crisis — we must do what science and experts say will keep people safe."
The announcements came the same weekend that many revelers were photographed out at crowded bars for St. Patrick's Day festivities, in Chicago and elsewhere. Long lines for bars and brunch in New York City were shared on social media as well, prompting more calls for Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio to take more strident action as other states have done.
Shortly after the Ohio and Illinois announcements were made, Gov. Cuomo said New York schools would close this week, shutting down the largest public school system in the country. (Schools in states like Illinois have already been announced as closed through at least March 30.)
California Gov. Gavin Newsom also announced that he was closing down all bars, wineries and brew pubs in California, while also calling for "the home isolation of all seniors in the state of California 65 and older and those with chronic conditions."
Newsom:— Jory Rand (@ABC7Jory) March 15, 2020
"We are directing that all bar, brew pubs, wineries be closed."
Restaurants: more nuanced considerations. "We don't believe, ultimately, that that is necessary at this moment." Asking for social distancing in restaurants. Reducing restaurant occupancy by half.@ABC7
An estimated 5.3 million California residents are 65 and older, among the most vulnerable demographic to COVID-19. Newsom said there was a 14% increase in confirmed cases in California and that more than 8,000 tests have been completed so far with 335 total confirmed cases and 6 deaths.
While the federal government seems reticent to take drastic domestic actions, in addition to the partial travel ban on Europe that President Trump has instituted, the governors' decisions are in line with many European leaders who have in recent days taken steps to lock down their countries. It will likely be only a matter of time before more U.S. governors follow suit, and we'll update this article accordingly.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Sunday morning that Americans "should be prepared that they're going to have to hunker down significantly more than we as a country are doing" right now in order to fight the spread of the virus. On NBC's Meet the Press, he was asked if the U.S. should go ahead and move to a two-week countrywide lockdown the way countries like Spain and Italy have. Fauci responded, "I would prefer as much as we possibly could. I think we should really be overly aggressive and get criticized for overreacting."
And a reminder from LA Times journalist Matt Pearce:
I imagine all the closures and cancellations give people a sense of ominousness. But it's really an amazing act of social solidarity: We're sacrificing so we can give nurses, doctors and hospitals a fighting chance. Start from there and hopefully we can figure out the rest.— Matt Pearce 🦅 (@mattdpearce) March 12, 2020