New York, Illinois Governors Issue Stay At Home Orders, Following California's Lead
Updated at 5:48 p.m. ET
Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday afternoon issued an order for all Illinois residents to stay at home, as the deadly coronavirus has spread to a quarter of the state's counties and infected more than 500 people.
The stricter limits go into effect on Saturday.
They follow a similar order by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who issued a mandate earlier on Friday, and another by California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday. The governors of Connecticut, Nevada and New Jersey also say they want people to stay at home.
"We know this will be hard," Pritzker said in a news conference, adding that the new rules are expected to last until April 7.
"That gives us time to see whether or not this social distancing ... is having the desired effect of slowing the spread of COVID-19, he said.
Pritzker said essential services including grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations will remain open, and restaurants will be allowed to continue take-out services. But most other places will have to shut down.
However, he pleaded with people not "to rush out to a grocery store or gas station" to stockpile essential goods.
Health care professionals and other essential workers will be provided with safe child care, according to Pritzker, who offered no details on how such programs will work. Students will also continue receiving free meals, he said.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo took what what he calls "the ultimate step" in his state to protect the public, signing an executive order "mandating that 100% of workforce must stay home, excluding essential services."
The order, which Cuomo announced Friday, excludes businesses such as pharmacies and grocery stores, along with essential services such as utilities and Internet providers.
"When I talk about the most drastic action we can take — this is the most drastic action we can take," Cuomo said.
In addition to the workforce order, all nonessential gatherings of individuals in New York state are now canceled — "of ANY size for ANY reason," Cuomo said via Twitter. The ban applies to any party, celebration or social event.
New York has confirmed more than 7,100 cases of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, making it by far the largest single source of the nearly 15,500 cases now reported in the U.S. As of Friday, 38 people in the state had died from the respiratory disease. Nationwide, the coronavirus is blamed for killing at least 205 people.
New York has tested more than 32,000 people for the virus, including 10,000 in one day, Cuomo said. And he said the high number of new cases — New York added some 2,900 coronavirus cases from Thursday to Friday — should not in itself worry people.
"It was the reality," he said. "The tests are just demonstrating what was."
But in a separate part of his news conference, the governor also said his state must add more hospital beds and ventilators to accommodate the influx of COVID-19 patients.
"The rate of increase in the number of cases portends a total overwhelming of our hospital system," Cuomo said.
New York is working to boost its number of hospital beds, which currently stands at around 50,000. The governor's office says around 18% of the state's coronavirus cases, or 1,255 people, are currently hospitalized.
#BREAKING: I will sign an Executive Order mandating that 100% of workforce must stay home, excluding essential services.— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) March 20, 2020
This order excludes pharmacies, grocery stores, and others.
"I believe these policies will save lives. And I'm not willing to put a price on a human life," Cuomo said at a news conference late Friday morning.
Staying at home doesn't mean not being permitted to exercise outdoors.
"It's running. It's hiking," Cuomo said of the preferred activities. "It's not playing basketball with five other people. That's not what it is. It's not laying in a park with 10 other people and sharing a beer. That's not what this is."
The New York order is similar to escalating steps taken in California, where Gov. Gavin Newsom has ordered the state's 40 million residents to stay at home indefinitely to stop the virus from spreading.
As of noon ET Friday, Washington state had reported 1,376 coronavirus cases, and California had reported 1,030, according to a COVID-19 dashboard created by the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering, which reports coronavirus numbers in near real time.
Coronavirus: Know The Basics (And Wash Your Hands)
The primary symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough and shortness of breath. Some people also experience fatigue, headaches and, less frequently, diarrhea. Cases can range from mild to moderate to severe. About 80 percent of cases so far seem to be mild, according to the World Health Organization.
To prevent the coronavirus from spreading, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using a hand sanitizer if a sink isn't available. The WHO says people should wear face masks only if they're sick or caring for someone who is.
What should I do if I think I'm sick?
If you think you've been exposed to COVID-19 and develop symptoms, call your doctor. Many state and local health departments have set up hotlines to answer questions, so that's another good place to start. It's important that you don't expose others. Call your doctor before you go to their clinic so they can take necessary precautions.
Wash your hands as soon as you walk through the door. Avoid sharing personal items such dishes, cups, utensils. Clean and disinfect "high-touch" surfaces like door handles and cellphones every day.
How do I self-quarantine? And what does it mean?
The CDC has a guide for caring for yourself at home if you have a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.
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