As the United States faces an all-time high of coronavirus hospitalizations and a daily average of more than 128,000 cases per day over the past week, state and local leaders enacted new lockdown measures this week in the total absence of federal guidance.
On Thursday, Ohio governor Mike DeWine reimposed a mask mandate in the state after the number of new cases spiked by 96 percent over the past two weeks. “It’s on fire,” said DeWine, who was booed at Trump rallies in September for his support of face coverings. “We’ve got to slow it down.” He added that bars, restaurants, and gyms could be forced to close next week “if the current trend continues.”
Earlier this week, Utah’s governor, Gary Herbert, also announced a statewide mask mandate due to the record number of hospitalizations in the state. Despite a positive testing rate of over 50 percent in Iowa, Republican governor Kim Reynolds’s new mask mandate is only required at indoor gatherings of over 25 people or outdoor events with more than 100 — except when people are eating or drinking. A more stringent order was given in North Dakota, where high hospitalizations and an overwhelmed health-care system led to Governor Doug Burgum’s announcement allowing COVID-positive nurses and doctors to treat COVID patients.
Cities too have been clamping down. In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a 30-day stay-at-home advisory, limiting groups at private residences to ten people and calling for residents to remain at home except for errands, school, and essential work. She also requested that Chicagoans cancel Thanksgiving gatherings. Several cities, including Philadelphia, Detroit, Indianapolis, and suburban Minneapolis, announced this week that there would be no in-person classes for the immediate future. In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo just ordered statewide closures of bars, gyms, and restaurants at 10 p.m.. And in New York City, schools are dangerously close to being closed: The citywide positivity rating is just above 2.5 percent, and Mayor Bill de Blasio previously warned that a positivity rate of 3 percent or more would lead to the suspension of in-person classes.
As the president reportedly complains of a “medical deep state” and does nothing to halt the aggressive national surge, all indications suggest the surge is still increasing. One member of the president-elect’s COVID-19 advisory board has warned that the nation could soon reach 200,000 new cases in a day. With deaths lagging behind hospitalizations by three weeks throughout the pandemic, they too are expected to spike. Already, more than 242,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus.