(NEW YORK) — As the American death toll from the novel coronavirus continues to rise, pressure to impose a nationwide stay-at-home order mounts.
President Trump has resisted calls to issue a nationwide stay-at-home directive, despite task force projections that predicted between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans could lose their lives from the coronavirus, even if social distancing measures are strictly followed.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and a member of the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that the federal government should enact a nationwide stay-at-home order to curtail the spread of the coronavirus in the United States.
“I don’t understand why that’s not happening,” Fauci said, “If you look at what’s going on in this country, I just don’t understand why we’re not doing that. We really should be.”
“Whether there should be a federally mandated directive for that or not, I guess that’s more of a political question, but just scientifically, doesn’t everybody have to be on the same page with this stuff?” Fauci added.
Although most states have enacted stay-at-home orders, 9 states have yet to take statewide action.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has repeatedly defended his decision not to issue a stay-at-home order, suggesting that such a measure would cause loss of jobs.
“We’re trying to make good judgement based upon good public health data that is scientifically based and makes sense for Arkansas,” Hutchinson said in a press conference on Thursday.
He argued that Arkansas residents are already taking precautionary measures by practicing proper social distancing and independently deciding to stay home.
“I understand there is a certain amount of political pressure to do what everyone else is doing,” Arkansas Department of Health Secretary Dr. Nathan Smith added at the press conference. “What we’re trying to accomplish here is not to be like every other state or tick off a box. What we’re trying to do is flatten that curve.”
The two officials stated that although they believe a stay-at-home order is not sustainable, the state will take additional measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
Hutchinson has issued a limit on gatherings of over 10 people and shut down dining in at restaurants. Arkansas schools have been closed until April 17.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds insists that a statewide stay-at-home order is unnecessary.
Reynolds has previously suggested that the measures already implemented by the state are “equivalent” to an informal stay-at home-order.
“What else are we doing by doing a shelter-in-place or stay-at-home order except for potentially disrupting the supply chain, putting additional pressure on the essential workforce, and making sure that we are considering how we bring that back up?,” Reynolds said in a recent press conference.
Democratic leaders in the Hawkeye state have called for Reynolds to issue a statewide shelter-in-place order.
“A statewide shelter-in-place sends a clearer message about the serious nature of this pandemic. The current patchwork of recommendations is confusing, raising more questions than answers about what Iowans should be doing to help save lives,” Iowa Senate and House Democratic leaders, Janet Petersen and Todd Prichard wrote in a letter to the governor.
Reynolds ordered all non-essential businesses closed until April 7. Schools will be closed until April 15.
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts reiterated on Thursday that he does not believe a statewide stay-at-home order is necessary yet.
“We’re a different state than states like New York that are doing that. We are much earlier in the epidemic curve than New York,” Ricketts said.
He assured the public that the state is taking appropriate steps and suggested that many of the measures taken by the state are stricter than in some cities and states with stay-at-home orders.
The state has also imposed a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people, and Nebraska schools will be closed until May 31
Despite lower numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum has repeatedly called for residents to take social distancing seriously, in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus.
The state has closed all athletic facilities, theaters, bars and restaurants except for takeout, delivery and curbside service, and has recommended limiting access to nursing homes. North Dakota schools are also all closed until further.
Burgum has asked the state’s citizens to “acknowledge and understand” the orders that have already been put in place.
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Sitt has implemented several precautionary measures, including the closure of all non-essential businesses, and a “safer-at-home” order, which was extended to all 77 counties on Wednesday.
“I have agonized over all these decisions, but this is the right time to take these steps,” said Stitt.
The “safer-at-home” order closes all non-essential businesses and directs senior citizens and at-risk residents to self quarantine. Such an order is different from a stay-at-home directive, which would require all residents to substantially limit their movements outside the home.
Further, the governor has called a statewide stay-at-home order “unrealistic,” reiterating individual personal responsibility, and the need for social distancing.
Oklahoma schools will also be closed until April 6.
Three of South Carolina’s largest cities, Charleston, Columbia and Mount Pleasant have issued stay-at-home orders. However, Gov. Henry McMaster has stopped short of enacting a statewide measure.
On Monday, McMaster ordered the closure of all state beaches, and subsequently, all non-essential businesses
“We are not ordering people to stay at home, but from the very beginning we’ve been telling people to stay home … and a lot of people are staying home,” McMaster said in a press conference.
Democratic Representatives have criticized McMaster for not taking further widespread enforcement actions to curtail the spread of the virus in South Carolina.
“I don’t understand why he hasn’t taken that step and told the citizens under the force of law you must stay at home,” Rep. Seth Rose said.
All South Carolina schools will also be closed until April 30.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has repeatedly resisted calls to close the state, arguing that “South Dakota is not New York City.”
“The calls to apply for a one-size-fits-all approach to this problem is herd mentality,” Noem said in a press conference on Wednesday.
The governor has left the decision surrounding whether to close businesses to local governments, saying that this decision was not within her powers.
However, local leaders have disagreed, saying that such measures are within her powers during an emergency situation.
Noem has also stressed the importance of social distancing and personal responsibility.
“That people think if we put everybody in their house and lock them there for two weeks, then let ’em out, that the virus will be gone and nobody would get sick, and everything would be perfect.”
The state has closed all South Dakota schools until May 1.
Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson has called on state officials to implement a statewide stay-at-home order, asserting in a press conference that the coronavirus “does not recognize county lines.” There are currently stay-at-home orders in five of Utah’s 29 counties.
However, Gov. Gary Herbet has maintained his reluctance to issue a statewide order, arguing that the state’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe,” directive is a “more positive route,” while a stay-at-home order would elicit fear.
The “Stay Home, Stay Safe,” order encourages residents to stay home as much as possible.
Navajo Nation, which spans parts of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico, Summit County and Salt Lake City have announced their own stay-at-home orders, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has also closed its temples, and its missionaries around the world were asked to return home and quarantine upon arrival.
There are also statewide closings of bars and restaurants, ski areas, gyms, theaters and campgrounds. Utah schools will be closed until May 1.
On Monday, Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon said in a press conference that the state has no plans for a stay-at-home order.
“If we’re going to issue a shelter-in-place or stay-at-home order, it will not have multiple exemptions. It will be a true stay-at-home order,” Gordon said.
The governor has asked all residents to stay home as much as possible and urged the need for public cooperation in order for Wyoming to make strides in slowing the spread of the virus.
The state closed all non-essential businesses last Friday, and all Wyoming schools will be closed until April 17. The state has also forbidden gatherings of 10 people.
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