The United States has seen a rapid increase of coronavirus cases over the past week, going from roughly 1,000 to well over 10,000 as of March 19. That is largely due to the ramp-up of testing across the country.
The US government, especially the administration of President Donald Trump, was criticised for a slow response, but has ramped up action in recent days, easing restrictions on testing vaccines and passing benefit packages for workers, employers and international corporations.
The White House has also recommended limiting gatherings to 10 people, among other guidelines that were issued with frank urgency but that are not mandatory.
But the states of the US have significant powers to handle the crisis, with many adopting similar approaches, including school and public business closures, while others tackle the issue by giving power to local officials.
How has each state reacted?
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey issued a state of emergency on March 13 and said that all public schools would be closed from March 18 to April 6.
Alabama saw its first confirmed case on Friday, with 29 cases confirmed by Tuesday.
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Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy announced on March 16 that state-run libraries, museums and archives will be closed through the end of March, and he ordered boarding school programmes to send students home.
Schools have been closed to students until March 30.
Some municipalities, such as state capital Anchorage, ordered bars, eateries and public spaces to close before federal officials expanded the order statewide, starting on March 18.
However, Alaska is disconnected from the contiguous 48 US states, and the nine confirmed coronavirus cases in the state as of March 19 came from people travelling from the “lower 48”.
Governor Doug Ducey alongside Superintendent Kathy Hoffman announced the closure of Arizona schools on March 13. Schools will be closed from March 16 through March 27. The closure does not affect childcare centres. Ducey also announced the cancelation of events with 50 or more people.
However, Arizona hasn’t adopted an aggressive approach to the spread of coronavirus, with the governor garnering criticism for not closing bars, restaurants and businesses.
A coalition of labour and community organisations, including some of the state’s largest unions, called on Ducey to “act more boldly and swiftly to protect working families across the state”.
Several counties across the state have taken their own measures – including closing businesses where people gather.
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said at a news conference on March 16 that restaurants can remain open “on their own choosing and based upon market demand” as a press conference.
Hutchinson ordered schools to close on March 17 through March 27, thanks to a preplanned spring holiday.
Many businesses in Arkansas have closed of their own choice.
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Governor Gavin Newsom announced that all public events in California are cancelled until at least the end of March. Newsom ordered the closure of restaurants on March 17, following previous orders to close bars, breweries, wineries and similar establishments.
Restaurants will still be able to deliver carry-out orders.
Food trucks, a staple of California’s food industry, are currently allowed to remain open.
Newsom declared a state of emergency on March 4, saying “protect consumers against price gouging, allow for health care workers to come from out of state to assist at health care facilities, and give health care facilities the flexibility to plan and adapt to accommodate incoming patients.”
On March 17, Newsom announced that schools, which were ordered closed last week, would likely not reopen for the school year.
In the San Francisco area, a shelter-in-place order began on March 17. Under the measure, considered the most severe taken by local governments since the outbreak, residents of six counties have been told to stay inside and away from others as much as possible for three weeks. Businesses that do not provide “essential” services have also been ordered to close.
Colorado Governor Jared Polis followed other states in prohibiting on-site dining at eateries and bars in Colorado, while still allowing takeout service, effective the morning of March 1. Up to five customers will be allowed inside at any one time to pick up orders, but they must maintain 1.8m distance.
The order will last for at least 30 days.
On March 18, Polis ordered all in-person schooling to end until at least April 17. He also banned crowds of more than 10 people.
Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, in a joint statement with the governors of New York and New Jersey, announced that bars, restaurants and cinemas will close on March 16.
“If you have any options at all, stay home,” Lamont said. “If you’re over 60, 70, stay home.”
On March 15, Lamont ordered all public schools to close until at least March 31.
On March 18, after the state recorded its first death from the virus, the order was extended to include places of public amusement, including malls, bowling alleys and amusement parks.
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Delaware Governor John Carney on March 16 ordered all restaurants and bars to reduce service to carryout and delivery.
“Delawareans should continue to support these businesses, and their workers, by ordering takeout or delivery,” Carney said.
The state has also ordered schools to close for two weeks, beginning, March 16.
These measures came as an amendment to Carney’s original state of emergency, which was declared on March 12.
The Florida Department of Education ordered all public schools closed as of March 16 until March 30, which was later extended to April 15. Governor Ron DeSantis has urged public universities to finish their courses online.
DeSantis ordered all bars and nightclubs across Florida to close as of 5pm local on March 17 for the next 30 days, while restricting restaurant occupancy to 50 percent and ordering that patrons should be separated by a distance of at least 1.8 metres. The governor said that bars that serve food can remain open.
DeSantis has resisted calls to close beaches in the state, but has urged caution for vacationers celebrating spring break.
Governor Brian Kemp announced all schools will close from March 18 through the end of the month, with some localities stopping classroom instruction on March 16.
The state has yet to close businesses, but some cities, notably Atlanta, have closed restaurants, bars and other businesses where people gather as of March 19.
Kemp declared a public health emergency on March 14, with the state setting up mobile housing units for people who need to be quarantined but can’t stay in their homes.
Governor David Ige closed all bars and clubs in the state on March 17, while telling restaurants to only order takeout food. Public attractions, state libraries and parks have also been closed.
Ige also asked for tourists to postpone their visits to the island state, and for Hawaiians to avoid hoarding foodstuffs and supplies, a common issue across the US.
Hawaii public schools extended spring holidays on March 13, with students expected to return in early April.
Hawaii has reported few cases, being disconnected from the contiguous 48 states. Any visitors coming to the island via cruise ship will be screened, according to Ige.
Governor Brad Little signed a “proactive emergency declaration” on March 13, when no cases were confirmed. As of March 17, there were seven confirmed cases.
On March 18, Little announced the state was adopting federal guidelines, which urge people not to gather in groups of more than 10. He has also advised residents not to eat at restaurants.
Those guidelines are not mandatory, but Little said that as subject to change.
“Given the circumstances we have now, we need to do all we can to escalate awareness and preparedness,” Little said during a March 15 press conference. “Prepare for the worst-case scenario, but we should also de-escalate alarmism – and that is critical.”
On March 13, Governor JB Pritzker ordered all public and private schools, kindergarten through grade 12, to close until March 30.
All bars and restaurants with dine-in service were ordered to close to the public at the end of business hours on March 16 until at least March 30, Governor Pritzker announced.
Employees will still be able to go to work, and drive-through and pickup services will still be allowed.
On March 16, in an executive order, Pritzker limited all crowd sizes to under 50, applying specifically to fitness centers, bowling alleys, private clubs and theatres, according to the Chicago Tribune.
On March 16, Governor Eric Holcomb closed restaurants, bars and nightclubs through the month, following the state’s first coronavirus-linked death.
The governor’s office also said that as of March 15, 273 public school districts have closed or moved instruction online. There are 16 more public school districts working with the state education department to plan their next move.
Officials have also recommended that hospitals postpone elective surgeries.
Governor Kim Reynolds ordered bars, eateries and other facilities such as gyms to close for two weeks on March 17. Restaurants will be able to continue delivery and pick-up services, in line with other states.
Gatherings of 10 or more are also banned, and Reynolds recommended schools close for four weeks.
Kansas Governor Laura Kelly banned gatherings of 50 or more on March 16 for two months as local officials began ordering certain businesses to close.
Kansas has yet to ban dine-in services at restaurants and bars, but the governor says further measures are to be expected.
“I don’t think that we are finished putting in place strategies to deal with the fallout from the coronavirus,” Kelly said during a statehouse news conference.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, who declared a state of emergency on March 6, announced statewide closures of bars and restaurants on March 16, along with the state’s first death as a result of the virus.
All schools are closed until at least April 6, with hospitals directed to postpone elective procedures.
The Kentucky Derby, an important horse racing event, has been postponed until September 5. It was originally scheduled for May 2.
Louisana Governor John Bel Edwards ordered on March 16 all restaurants and bars to close while still allowing for delivery and takeout, and he limited gatherings to 50 or less people. The order also closed casinos and cinemas.
Edwards closed schools through April 13 on March 13, one of the longest initial closures in the US.
The state has also delayed its primary for the Democratic presidential nominee scheduled for April 4.
Maine Governor Janet Mills announced a state of emergency on March 15. Three days later, Mills banned gatherings of more than 10 people in the state.
Bars and restaurants were ordered to end dine-in services, and non-essential businesses were urged to close.
Mills also recommended that schools stop classroom instruction, as many have already done.
Maryland, along with Virginia and the District of Columbia, announced strict closures on public spaces such as bars, restaurants, nightclubs and cinemas on March 16, with restaurants offering only takeout food.
All public schools in the region were closed as of March 16.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has also ordered that the state’s casinos and racetracks be closed for the foreseeable future. Gatherings of over 50 people have also been suspended.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency on March 10. He then limited gatherings to 25 people on March 15 and closed bars and restaurants on March 17, effective until April 6.
There is currently a three-week school closure in the state for all public schools, with residential and day schools for special-needs students unaffected.
Massachusetts has also authorised pharmacies to create and sell hand sanitiser over the counter, and the state has ordered hospitals to cancel non-essential elective procedures, among other measures.
Massachusetts is considered to have adopted one of the most aggressive responses to the epidemic.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has closed all nonessential public spaces, limiting groups to 50 or less, and ordered bars and restaurants to close except for takeout and delivery services as of March 16.
The state has taken gradual and increasingly strong action to mitigate the crisis since its first confirmed case of coronavirus on March 10.
Whitmer, on March 12, ordered the closure of all K-12 public schools until April 6.
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Minnesota Governor Tim Walz ordered schools to close on March 15 and restaurants and bars to close as of 5pm March 17, along with other public venues such as gyms, effective through March 27.
Delivery and pickup services are allowed to continue, in line with other states.
“We need to stop congregating”, Walz said after calling for the closures.
Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves announced the state’s plan to confront the coronavirus during a streamed press conference on March 16, in which he urged all schools to extend their spring holidays through March 20 and informed citizens that emergency service personnel were working at “stage 1” for the first time since the destructive Hurricane Katrina hit the state in 2005.
Reeves is currently quarantined himself following a trip to Spain, according to the Clarion-Ledger newspaper.
The state has yet to order the closure of major businesses, restaurants or bars.
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Governor Mike Parson declared a state of emergency in Missouri on March 13, and ordered the closure of all casinos on March 17.
As of March 18, there was no statewide order for the closure of restaurants and bars, but several counties had imposed the measure.
Schools were also not closed statewide, although 445 of the state’s 550 public schools had closed as of March 17, Parson told reporters.
Parson has also urged gatherings of over 50 people to be suspended.
Montana Governor Steve Bullock ordered a state of emergency on March 12. Three days later, he ordered schools to close through March 27. Visits to nursing homes have also been limited, and the governor strongly recommended gatherings be limited to 50 people or less.
Bullock has not issued statewide closures of bars and restaurants, but many counties have issued these orders.
Montana is a rural, sparsely-populated state. However, coronavirus cases have been documented in several counties.
Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts limited gatherings to 10 people or less March 16, but said that businesses can remain open. Ricketts said restaurants and bars may face further limitations to takeout and delivery service in the coming days.
The 10-person limit applies to child care centres, weddings and funerals, Ricketts said.
“It is not a law enforcement action,” Ricketts said in a statement on March 16. “It’s going to take individual action from all of us to make this work.”
There was no statewide school closure as of March 17. However, many local school systems have closed through March 31.
Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak announced a state of emergency on March 12. He later ordered that all K-12 schools close on March 16 through April 6, with an expansion of the closures possible.
Major casinos and hotels in Las Vegas announced the indefinite suspension of operations until further notice on March 17.
Governor Sisolak has said that all non-essential services in the state should close, and gatherings and crowded events should be avoided or postponed.
“I am telling non-essential businesses you have two choices,” he said in a news conference on March 17. “Find a way to service your customers through delivery, drive-through, curbside pickup or front-door pickup – or close your doors.”
The state has also banned gatherings of 50 or more people as of Monday, and has ended dining in eateries.
As in other states, delivery will still be an option from restaurants that provide it.
In a joint statement with the governors of New York and Connecticut, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced that bars, restaurants and cinemas will close as of March 16. The states also limited recreational and social gatherings to 50 people.
New Mexico Health Secretary Kathy Kunkle announced on March 15 that she amended a previous public health emergency order to drastically limit public gatherings.
The new regulations, which went into effect the next day, limit bars and eateries to 50 percent of their seating capacity. Similar to cases in other states, all occupied tables must be at least six feet (1.8m) apart.
Gatherings of 100 people or more are prohibited. Casinos and horse tracks in the state will also be closed.
Public schools were closed for three weeks starting March 16.
Officials had declared a public health emergency on March 11.
New York State
New Rochelle, to the north of New York City, has seen the most significant outbreak of coronavirus on the East Coast.
At least 380 cases of the state’s roughly 1,374 infections were found in Westchester County, where New Rochelle is located, as of March 18. Many of the early cases were connected to a congregant at the Young Israel synagogue who attended services and events while being unknowingly infected.
Governor Andrew Cuomo had declared a disaster emergency on January 30, the same day the World Health Organization declared the virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Several counties, including Westchester, as well as New York City, have since declared a state of emergency.
Cuomo announced that bars, restaurants and cinemas will close as of March 16, in a joint press conference with his counterparts in New Jersey and Connecticut. The states also limited recreational and social gatherings to 50 people.
“We have agreed to a common set of rules that will pertain in all of our states, so don’t even think about going to a neighbouring state because there’s going to be a different set of conditions,” Cuomo said. “So if you can’t do a party in New York City, you can’t do a party in New Jersey, you can’t do a party in Connecticut.”
On March 16, Cuomo also closed schools statewide.
Officials have so far resisted a shelter-in-place policy, with the governor’s secretary saying on March 17 that there is “no consideration of that for any locality at this time”.
Governor Roy Cooper on March 17 said that all bars and restaurants will close in North Carolina, while keeping takeout and delivery operations open.
The declaration prompted the state’s lieutenant governor to say Cooper did not have the authority to impose such a restriction. A spokesman for Cooper’s office responded, accusing the number-two state official of creating “a chaotic situation in the middle of a pandemic”.
The state has also closed schools for two weeks starting March 16, six days after declaring a state of emergency.
“Closing schools now will give us time for further understanding of COVID-19 and its effects on our state”, Cooper said after signing the executive order to close schools.
Cooper promised teachers will be paid for the time they would have been teaching.
Burgum said the state of emergency will allow the state to issue guidelines that follow those of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including urging residents not to gather in groups larger than 50.
Officials had not yet ordered any statewide business closures.
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Governor Mike DeWine closed all bars and dine-in eateries in Ohio from 9pm onward on March 15, allowing for restaurants with carry-out and delivery options to continue operation.
The move made Ohio among the first states to impose these restrictions.
“This is a crucial time,” DeWine said at the announcement. “Delay means people will die.”
Should there be lines for takeout orders, customers will need to remain 1.8m apart, Gatherings of more than 50 people have been banned.
Schools have also been closed for at least three weeks, with DeWine saying the order may be extended.
The executive order encourages state government agencies to establish work-from-home policies, according to local media.
Stitt has recommended that Oklahomans use “common sense” to limit the spread of the virus. A spokesperson for the governor told CNN that Stitt “will continue to take his family out to dinner and to the grocery store without living in fear and encourages Oklahomans to do the same”.
Governor Kate Brown on March 16 ordered the closure of bars and restaurants to all service except takeout across the state, as well as limiting gatherings to 25 people and less. The order became effective the following day.
Oregon schools closed on March 15 to coincide with preplanned holidays, and were to remain closed until at least April 28.
Governor Tom Wolf ordered K-12 public schools to close for two weeks starting on March 16.
He initially ordered all restaurants and bars in the counties of Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery, where most of the state’s major population centres are found, to close their dine-in facilities for two weeks, but later extended the order statewide. The governor has also strongly urged non-essential businesses – such as recreation and entertainment facilities – to close.
Statewide crowd limitation orders have not been given, but the city of Philadelphia, as of March 12, has banned crowds of more than 1,000.
Officials also “strongly encouraged” suspensions of gatherings of over 10 people.
On March 10, Governor Gina Raimondo declared a state of emergency in Rhode Island.
Six days later, Raimondo announced that dine-in service will end at all bars and restaurants as of March 17, until at least March 30. As with other states, takeout services would remain an option.
Raimondo closed schools until April 3, with many expected to offer remote learning. She has recommended that gatherings of 25 or more be banned.
Restaurant dining rooms will also be closed, as of March 18, McMaster announced. Takeout and delivery will still be available, in line with measures taken by other states.
Other businesses and sporting organisations have closed their doors or suspended operations indefinitely.
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South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem ordered on March 13 that schools close for at least a week, extending the order for another week on March 17. She has also ordered non-essential personnel in state government to work from home.
Noem has said the restaurant and bar closures are not currently needed in the state, because instances of community spread have not yet been confirmed.
South Dakota State University has extended its spring holiday through March 23, when all classes will be temporarily moved online.
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, who declared a state of emergency on March 12, urged schools on March 16 to close by the end of the week and remain closed through the end of March. However, Lee said his office doesn’t have the power to force schools to close, leaving the decision up to local officials.
Bars, restaurants and other public establishments have not yet been ordered to close, however, Lee strongly discouraged groups of more than 250 on March 13.
Lee said during a news conference that statewide mandates were not necessarily the correct response, local media reported. The governor highlighted personal responsibility in reacting to the crisis.
Certain localities, such as the state capital Nashville, agreed to close bars and limit restaurant capacity in line with mandates in other states.
Texas’s approach to coronavirus containment is a “patchwork” of local regulations, according to statewide media the Texas Tribune.
Governor Greb Abbott declared a state of disaster on March 13, but has largely allowed cities, counties and school districts to adopt proprietary approaches to the virus.
Governor Greg Abbott said over the weekend that local authorities will make the best decision for their communities, and has so far resisted statewide closures.
He has, however, implemented restrictions on visitors to elderly care facilities, hospitals, prisons, and daycare centres. Officials have also waived standardised testing requirements for public schools.
Certain localities have cancelled classes and closed restaurants, bars and other locales. Others, including smaller towns, have not.
Governor Gary Herbert, on March 12, recommended a restriction on public gatherings of 100 people or less, while people saying people over 60 should limit gatherings to under 20 people.
“Today we stopped making decisions based on the hope that things will get better,” Herbert said in announcing the voluntary guideline.
That announcement was followed by a “soft closure” of public schools for two weeks that began on March 16. Teachers were given two days to determine how to move classes online.
The governor has yet to mandate that businesses close, but many restaurants have started to offer delivery and carryout services on their own.
Governor Phil Scott issued on March 16 a state of emergency and announced statewide closures of bars and restaurants, in line with other states. Delivery and pick-up will continue.
Scott also banned gatherings of 50 or more people and limited venues to operate at 50 percent capacity. Schools were ordered to close by March 18.
“I want Vermonters to know we’re continuously evaluating other mitigation steps and we’ll continue to communicate those as they are put into place,” said Governor Scott. “It’s important to remember that in times of crisis, we all need to make sacrifices. But Vermonters, and all Americans, have risen to many challenges before, and this time will be no different.”
On March 17, Northam issued an order prohibiting more than 10 patrons in restaurants, fitness centres, and theatres at one time.
“I hope that everyone will have the common sense to stay home tonight and in the days ahead,” said Northam. “This order will ensure that state and local officials have the tools they need to keep people safe”.
Washington State was the first to experience a significant outbreak of coronavirus, centred mostly on 11 homes for the elderly in early March. On February 29, Governor Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency.
On March 15, all bars, restaurants, recreational and entertainment facilities were ordered closed for two weeks. Officials also limited gatherings to under 50 people, Inslee announced on March 15.
Inslee had previously called for more restrictions on elderly and assisted living facilities, including limiting the number of visitors, keeping visitors in patient rooms and reviewing employees for virus symptoms.
These regulations will be in place until midnight on April 9. Schools closed March 15, and are expected to open again on April 27.
“This is an unprecedented public health situation,” Inslee said. “One main defence is to reduce the interaction of people in our lives.”
Governor Jim Justice declared a state of emergency on March 16, although West Virginia was, at the time, the last US state without a confirmed case of coronavirus. The declaration will ease rules on staffing and purchasing, the governor’s office explained. The state confirmed its first case of the coronavirus on Tuesday.
Justice has closed schools through March 27. Bars, restaurants and casinos have also been closed.
The lack of widespread testing in the US has created doubt about West Virginia’s status.
US Senator Joe Manchin said in a media call that it’s “no excuse when you know how vulnerable our state is. If it gets ahold of our state, we don’t have healthcare in order to defend ourselves. It could be devastating”.
Governor Tony Evers announced on March 16 that bars and restaurants would close and gatherings of 10 or more people would be banned as of March 17, allowing for delivery and takeout.
Schools are closed, with a tentative reopening for April 6.
“We are seeing community spread of COVID-19 in Wisconsin. This means that there are people who have tested positive who have no exposures to a known case, nor did they travel to a location where there is known community spread,” Evers said in a news conference announcing the closures.
Governor Mark Gordon and top school officials recommended that schools be closed through at least April 3.
Wyoming is sparsely populated. As of March 18, Gordon had yet to order the same business closures as other states.
The state “must realise that closing businesses and suspending travel and public events poses a threat to employment and business viability. Our responses to these threats must be focused and measured, and that’s what these teams will bring to a changing situation,” Gordon said in a statement.
District of Columbia
The seat of the nation’s capital announced strict closures on public spaces such as bars, restaurants, nightclubs and cinemas on March 15, offering only takeout food.
The district also suspended public service activities such as street sweeping and is encouraging all government employees to work from home.
Mayor Muriel Bower declared a public health emergency on March 11. All public schools in the region are closed as of March 16.
Editor’s note: Check with state and local governments for the most up-to-date actions taken.