Spring lockdowns helped stop hospitals from overflowing and drove down Covid-19 infection rates, saving countless lives in the process. Now, after states reopened and the summer surge erased much of the progress made during shutdowns, the US is in the throes of what doctors say will be the worst coronavirus surge yet.
But there’s little appetite for more shutdowns. Instead, here’s what some governors and mayors are doing to try to get a grip on the pandemic:
A growing number of cities and at least 33 states require masks to be worn inside public places or under specific circumstances.
Michigan is one of many states grappling with an onslaught of new Covid-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths. So last week, the state ordered residents to wear masks in any gathering of two or more people at places such as stores, offices and schools, the state’s health department said.
Some cities and counties are now under nightly curfews, including Miami-Dade County, Florida; El Paso County, Texas; and Pueblo, Colorado, which have all seen rampant spikes in new Covid-19 infections.
“What we are facing in Pueblo is a public health disaster, which threatens lives and our economy,” Mayor Nicholas Gradisar said Thursday in announcing a two-week curfew.
Meanwhile, El Paso County, Texas, has implemented a two-week curfew, said Judge Ricardo Samaniego, the top government official in the county. Samaniego said all hospitals and intensive care units in the El Paso area had already hit 100% capacity.
In Florida, anyone in Miami-Dade County must wear a mask in public when social distancing is not possible or when there is no physical barrier present, according to an order from County Mayor Carlos Giménez. Miami-Dade said the mask mandate is good for business, too.
In Michigan, restaurant diners and bar patrons must provide their phone numbers for contact tracing in case they get exposed to someone with coronavirus, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said.
New York state announced similar rules in September. At least one member of each party dining at a restaurant indoors must provide contact information in case a contact tracer needs to reach them, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office said.
Some states are also clamping down on crowd sizes, both indoors and outdoors.
Connecticut, which had been one of the most successful states at handling the pandemic, will limit restaurants to 50% capacity, Gov. Ned Lamont said Monday.
Religious ceremonies in Connecticut are limited to 50% capacity or 100 people, whichever is smaller. Indoor event spaces are limited to 25 people, outdoor event spaces to 50 people, and theaters to 100 people.
Illinois is now under “resurgence mitigations” after test positivity rates soared in all regions of the state. As of Wednesday, all indoor restaurant and bar service is banned, and all meetings, gatherings or social events are limited to 25% capacity or a total of 25 guests, whichever is fewer.
In Colorado, health officials have backtracked on Denver’s reopening. Restaurants are now limited to 25% capacity indoors, or no more than 50 people total per room. Places of worship are capped at 25% capacity or 50 people, and retail stores are now limited to 25% capacity.