Michigan and Washington are the latest US states to announce renewed efforts to combat the coronavirus as more than 11 million cases of COVID-19 have now been reported in the country.
Health experts and officials across the nation are now cautioning people to forego or revise gatherings and holiday travel plans as Thanksgiving and winter celebrations approach.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration ordered high schools and colleges to stop in-person classes, closed restaurants to indoor dining and suspended organized sports in an attempt to curb the state’s spiking case numbers. The order also restricts indoor and outdoor residential gatherings, closes some entertainment facilities and bans gyms from hosting group exercise classes.
The new rules, set to last three weeks, are extensive but not as sweeping the Democratic governor’s stay-at-home order this past spring.
“The situation has never been more dire,” Whitmer, who authorities say also was the target of a kidnapping plot spurred on by anger over her earlier virus measures, said at a Sunday evening news conference. “We are at the precipice and we need to take some action.”
The directives from Michigan come on the same day that Washington Gov Jay Inslee announced the state would enforce new restrictions on businesses and social gatherings for the next month as it, too, continued to combat a rising number of cases.
Starting Tuesday, gyms and some entertainment centers in Washington will be required to close their indoor services. Retail stores, including grocery stores, will be ordered to limit indoor capacity and multiple-household, indoor social gatherings will be prohibited unless attendees have quarantined for 14 days or tested negative for COVID-19 and quarantined for a week. By Wednesday, restaurants and bars will again be limited to outdoor dining and to-go service.
The actions also follow grim milestones passed by Texas and California last week as the states each marked more than 1 million confirmed cases since the beginning of the pandemic.
In Washington, all 39 of its counties have been paused in either the second or third phase of a four-stage reopening plan that started in early May after a lockdown that began in March.
As of Sunday, Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracker has reached 11 million after topping 10 million cases Nov. 9 — with the most recent million coming in just six days. It took 300 days for the U.S. to hit the 11 million mark since the first case was diagnosed in Washington state on January 20.
Rita Osakwe/Agency Reports