Spring Openings: Lockdowns Ease in Many States, Protests Continue in Others

Posted: May 01, 2020 4:25 PM
Spring Openings: Lockdowns Ease in Many States, Protests Continue in Others

Source: AP Photo/Seth Wenig

As cases of the Wuhan coronavirus flatten across the nation and fear of disease is replaced by fear of economic devastation, many regions in the United States have moved toward reopening. Battered by loss of employment, inability to gather with friends and families, and a longing for the return of civil liberties, much of America faces a happier May with 'open' signs flickering back to life. 

Other states, however, are facing the wrath of angry Americans tired of being told they can't work and must stay home. In California, signs calling for Gov. Gavin Newsom's resignation, calling him "Gruesome Newsom," were flown over beaches in the southern part of the state after Newsom chose to ban access to beaches over fear of crowding. Local political leaders, however, rejected the decision. Orange County Supervisor Don Wagner said in a statement that closing beaches for his constituents was "unwise."

"Medical professionals tell us the importance of fresh air and sunlight in fighting infectious diseases, including mental health benefits," Wagner said. "Moreover, Orange County citizens have been cooperative with California state and county restrictions thus far. I fear that this overreaction from the state will undermine that cooperative attitude and this and our collective efforts to fight the disease."

Protests in Michigan, Illinois, New Jersey, and other states facing a continuance of harsh restrictions have drawn the focus of the nation as governors like Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI), and Phil Murphy (D-NJ) vowed to keep their states' residents under strict orders. Republican lawmakers in Michigan squarely rejected Gov. Whitmer's 28-day emergency declaration extension this week, citing an overreach of power in a supposed Democracy.

"The current status quo relies on one-size-fits-all edicts that unfairly punish millions of people across the state without giving them any recourse or voice in the process," GOP Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield said. "The people deserve a better solution, and we can provide it."

In sharp contrast to the unrest brewing in states like Michigan and California, however, stay-at-home orders and restrictions in other states began to relax as April drew to a close. Following the president's direction of yielding ultimate decision making to the governors of each state, repeals to emergency bans and crisis regulations rolled away at different rates and in measured ways. 

States including Ohio, Texas, Alabama, and Pennsylvania, however, walked back many of their states most constricting COVID-19 related restriction. Texas Gov. Abbott even embraced one suspended regulation that has not been missed by residents of the Lone Star state. Overall, stay-at-home orders expired in 21 states as of May 1.

As of May 1, residents of Pennsylvania will be allowed back outdoors to resume construction projects, go fishing, golfing, and camping. More restrictions across the state will be lifted by next weekend, allowing a key state in the Acela corridor to return to some semblance of normal life. 

Iowa relaxed restaurant closures, providing one of the hardest hit industries in the nation to begin business again, as long as they stick to a maximum of 50 percent capacity. Malls, gyms, race tracks, and retail stores will also be allowed to reopen under this protocol. 

While citizens tire of the lockdowns, however, some regional health officials predict a prolonged necessity for lockdowns. Officials advising the Washington, D.C. Mayor and her reopening advisory group said in a Wednesday town hall that the nation's capital should face a minimum of two more months of strict lockdown before any restaurants and businesses should consider reopening. 

While the question of treatment and spread of COVID-19 remain largely unanswered, downward trends in deaths and new hospitalizations have encouraged many American leaders to address the ravaged economy. Nearly 30 million Americans have applied for unemployment benefits as of this week, but long term plans must be made to replace the emergency funding from the government, with or without a cure for the Wuhan virus. 

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