More States Order Residents to Stay Home as Crisis Worsens

(CN) – Several states across the country announced stay-at-home orders Monday in attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Arizona, Virginia and Maryland closed their states down except for essential services, like grocery stores, pharmacies and hospitals.

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

During a press conference Monday, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey imposed a statewide stay-at-home order. Covid-19 has infected nearly 1,200 in the state and killed at least 20.

The order, which goes into effect at 5 p.m. Tuesday until at least April 30, will bar Arizonans from leaving home except to buy food and medicine and to exercise outdoors.

The Republican governor announced the move hours after he said Arizona schools would remain closed for the rest of the school year due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

“Our goal here is to protect the lives of those we love most and to ensure the health care system has the capacity to provide them with the care and comfort they deserve,” Ducey said during the press conference.

He encouraged Arizonans to get outside and enjoy the weather.

“We do not want people to feel trapped or isolated in their homes,” Ducey said. “The weather is beautiful right now. Find a way to get out and enjoy it — with physical distancing.”

Temperatures in Phoenix and Tucson are expected to range in the mid-80s this week.

The announcement came after Ducey faced pressure from Senator Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat, and nine of Arizona’s mayors, all asking the governor to institute a stay-at-home order. There are confirmed cases of Covid-19 in all the state’s 15 counties.

During the press conference, Ducey asked residents not to hoard groceries.

“Everyone should continue to buy one week’s worth of groceries for one week’s worth of needs,” he said. “That way, there will be plenty.”

Over the weekend, Ducey signed a bipartisan $50 million relief package that will help Arizonans struggling with making rent and keeping their businesses afloat and will aid the state’s food banks and homeless populations.

In Virginia, Governor Ralph Northam issued a statewide order effective immediately due to large crowds at beaches.

“You are being very, very selfish,” Northam said. “You are putting all of us, especially our health care providers, at risk.”

The order closes beaches except for exercising and fishing. It limits people from going outside of their homes except to get food, medical care and exercise.

“I want to be clear: Do not go out unless you need to go out. This is very different than wanting to go out,” Northam said.

Virginia has more than 1,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19; there have been at least virus-related 25 deaths in the state.

The Democratic governor’s order is in effect until at least June 10.

In neighboring Maryland, Governor Larry Hogan ordered Maryland residents not to leave home unless it’s for an “essential” purpose. The order goes into effect at 8 p.m. Monday.

“This is a public health crisis,” Hogan said during a news conference. “We are no longer asking or suggesting that Marylanders stay at home. We are directing them to do so.”

Maryland has nearly 1,500 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 15 deaths.

“No Maryland resident should be leaving their home unless it is for an essential job or for an essential reason, such as obtaining food or medicine, seeking urgent medical attention or for other necessary purposes,” Hogan said.

During the conference, the Republican governor confirmed cases in the state have increased 397% over the past week.

Hogan said the order was necessary to combat the spread of the virus in Maryland and the neighboring states.

“You should be able to get outside for your own physical and mental well-being and go for a walk and take your dog for a walk,” Hogan said.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser followed Maryland and Virginia’s lead Monday and issued a stay-at-home order that will go into effect Wednesday.

“Our message remains the same: stay home,” Bowser, a Democrat, said in a statement. “Staying at home is the best way to flatten the curve and protect yourself, your family, and our entire community from COVID-19. Many people want to know how they can help right now, and for most people this is how – by staying home.”

D.C. has seen just over 400 cases of coronavirus and five deaths.

Taking a different path – despite more than 5,500 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and more than 70 deaths – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Division of Emergency Management chose to focus on Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe counties and ordered them to shut down public access to “facilities deemed non-essential.” The order will be in effect until April 16.

“We’ve had a unified approach in Southeast Florida. We understand this is a unique community in our state. We understand that you have a lot of international travel coming through Miami, a lot of interaction with New York City [between] Broward, Dade and Palm Beach. We view this as a serious challenge,” DeSantis said Monday at the Hard Rock stadium in Miami, where the parking lot has been converted to a drive-through coronavirus testing center.

DeSantis’ order, which codifies the “safer at home” policy of Miami-Dade and other counties, can be extended as needed, the governor’s office said.

Drive-through testing centers operated by the National Guard have been rolled out in South Florida over the last two weeks, with the goal of testing several hundred people a day at each location.

Citing an exodus of people coming to Florida from New York, DeSantis suspended vacation rentals last week and ordered visitors from New York and other hard-hit states to isolate themselves for 14 days upon arrival.​

Florida’s restaurants, bars, gyms and other gathering places have been closed following a March 20 executive order.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said Monday that a county-wide curfew is not in the works. He said that the “streets are quiet,” and that enforcement of a widespread curfew could burden police.​ Municipalities in South Florida, such as Delray Beach, Miami and Coral Gables, have put in place local curfews, however. Miami, for instance, is generally prohibiting people from leaving their homes for non-essential reasons after 10 p.m.

Some cities such as Fort Lauderdale in Broward County have imposed stay-at-home orders with potential criminal penalties and fines for violations. Through April 16, Fort Lauderdale’s order provides for up to 60 days in jail and a $500 penalty for people who leave their homes for unauthorized purposes. Traveling to work, buying food, visiting a doctor or dropping a child off for child care are listed as exceptions to the order.​

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