Illinois and Washington, D.C., are the latest places getting ready to effectively lock down as the novel coronavirus spreads into more communities across the U.S., infecting at least 15,000 people and killing at least 200 as of Friday.
The extreme social-distancing measures are designed to reduce population density, and limit the opportunity for the highly contagious virus to spread. State officials are particularly concerned that their medical systems could soon become overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization.
On Friday afternoon, Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued a “shelter in place” order effective Saturday, mandating all “non-essential” businesses to temporarily shut down, and commanding residents to stay in their homes except to go to the grocery store or pharmacy, or do solitary exercise outside.
Illinois has reported some 400 confirmed COVID-19 cases and four deaths.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser also announced new emergency orders on Friday afternoon, including banning mass gatherings and extended existing measures that closed down bars and restaurants.
Earlier Friday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the state was going on “pause,” effective Sunday night. New York is the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., with upwards of 7,000 confirmed cases — more than half of which are in New York City.
Cuomo had repeatedly said that he thought the term “shelter in place” was inappropriate in the context of a pandemic and was worried that such language would only serve to scare New Yorkers and possibly cause them to flee the state. The “pause” serves the same function as a shelter in place. Under his order, all non-essential businesses will shut down. Restaurants and bars will still be able to offer takeout and delivery, and liquor stores will also be allowed to stay open. People are not allowed to gather in groups outside their homes.
Cuomo has entered into a multi state agreement with the governors of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Connecticut. Those states have pursued orders to limit population density in the last week but haven't yet announced a drastic “pause” order.
Overnight, California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a statewide lockdown, ordering all 40 million Californians to stay home. In the last week, 21 of California’s 58 counties had issued their own “shelter in place” mandates.
On Friday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered all restaurants to close down except for delivery, and all gyms and fitness centers to close.
Earlier this week, he closed bars and nightclubs, as Spring Breakers flocked to the Sunshine State for a good time, and scenes of crowded beaches and bars drew gasps from socially-distanced onlookers.
“The message for Spring Breakers is the party is over in Florida,” DeSantis said on Fox and Friends on Thursday.
Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday issued an executive order to limit public gatherings, close schools, and limit bars and restaurants to takeout.
President Donald Trump said on Friday that he wasn’t currently considering a federal lockdown, though he has closed the borders with Mexico and Canada.
CORRECTION Sunday, March 22, 4:27 p.m.: A prior version of this story incorrectly reported that D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser had issued a shelter in place order. She banned mass gatherings and shuttered restaurants and bars.
Cover: Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks at a news conference in Belleville, Ill., Wednesday, March 18, 2020. (Derik Holtmann/Belleville News-Democrat via AP)