These States Just Imposed "Life-or-Death" Lockdowns
Three states enacted new restrictions on Thursday because of the surge in COVID-19 cases, which the governor of Pennsylvania called "dire." That day, the U.S. recorded a record number of daily deaths from coronavirus: More than 3,300, surpassing those lost on 9/11. The mitigation measures were inevitable, and follow others, like the ones enacted in New Mexico last month, when Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said "we face a life-or-death situation." "The worst is yet to come in the next week or two or three," Catherine Troisi, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at the UTHealth School of Public Health in Houston, told the New York Times. "What happens after that is going to depend on our behavior today." Read on to see what these states are doing, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
Pennsylvania: No More Indoor Dining
In Pennsylvania, as of Dec. 12, indoor dining will be prohibited, although outdoor dining and takeout is still allowed. Gyms will be closed. So will in-person entertainment venues like theaters, arcades, museums, clubs and bowling alleys. Indoor gatherings will be limited to 10 people, and outdoor gatherings to 50 people.
Gov. Tom Wolf said he's enacting the restrictions now because the surge of COVID-19 in the state became "dire" after Thanksgiving.
"We think this stems from families getting together and the heavy travel that took place over Thanksgiving," Wolf said. "I don't think anybody foresaw that when you go back to September or even October. It really wasn't as bad as it is now — it's taken off exponentially. So the hope was that the things that I did put into place would be enough to take is through the Thanksgiving season didn't work out as well as I hoped it would."
Virginia: Curfew, More Mask Requirements
In Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam enacted a curfew from midnight to 5 a.m. that will begin Monday. It will not apply to people who are commuting to or from work, performing essential errands, seeking medical attention or exercising.
"We need to take this seriously," said Northam. "We need to stay at home."
Northam also expanded the state's mask mandate, requiring Virginians age 5 and older to wear masks in all indoor settings when they're around people outside their immediate household and in outdoor gatherings that don't allow for social distancing. And public and private gatherings will be limited to 10 people, down from 50, exempting houses of worship, places of employment and schools.
Oklahoma: Gatherings and Dining Limited
Oklahoma also restricted indoor gatherings. Public gatherings (such as weddings, funerals and holiday parties held at event centers) are capped at 50% capacity for the next 30 days. Youth indoor sports are restricted to four spectators per participant or 50% capacity, whichever is lower. And restaurants and bars are required to close at 11 p.m. except for takeout or drive-through service.
In making that announcement, Gov. Kevin Stitt said COVID vaccines would begin arriving in the state next week. "We can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We are going to get through this together," he said.
New Mexico Had to Enact "Crisis Care"
The state has prohibited non-essential surgeries, a rule lasting from Dec. 11 through Jan. 4; it also allows, under limited circumstances, doctors who don't specialize in COVID to treat COVID patients. "New Mexico's health care providers and delivery system will continue to provide the best possible care to all patients," Acting Health Secretary Billy Jimenez said in a statement. "New Mexico's health care system, and everyone working within it, will continue to work toward the best possible outcome for our state. It's so important for all of us to step up for those dedicated health care workers, to recognize the sacrifices they are making to protect our neighbors, to understand our own actions can and will make a difference."
How to Survive This Pandemic
As for yourself, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Wear a face mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.