Coronavirus outbreak One in four Americans under strict stay-home orders to slow coronavirus spread
New Jersey joins New York, Connecticut, Illinois and California in telling residents to stay indoors and to practice social distancing
New Jersey on Saturday ordered its citizens to stay at home meaning that almost one in four Americans are now under orders to only leave their residences to run essential errands and maintain a six-foot separation from others.
Covid-19: disaster declared in New York as fears grow over lack of ventilators
New Jersey joins New York, Connecticut, Illinois and California as states who have now asked residents to stay at their places of residence, representing about 85 million people out of a total US population of about 327 million.
It is an unprecedented closure of vast parts of the country as the US seeks to get a grip on the rapidly expanding coronavirus outbreak and is dealing a devastating blow to the largest economy in the world by threatening millions of Americans with unemployment.
It is also wreaking havoc on social and cultural life. Americans have shut themselves indoors and businesses, restaurants and cultural institutions like cinemas, theaters and sports events have come to a shuddering halt.
New Jersey governor Phil Murphy signed an executive order for New Jerseyans to stay indoors. Murphy also ordered all gatherings to be canceled and that all non-essential retail businesses must indefinitely close their physical locations from tonight.
“Life in New Jersey does not have to come to a complete standstill. We want people to stay healthy, both physically and mentally,” Murphy said. “If you head outside to take a walk or go for a run or go to the grocery store, please continue practicing social distancing.”
The directives come as an increasing number of states issue disaster declarations that allow for military to be called in and to gain access to more than $50bn in federal relief funds.
Under the declarations, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) will be authorized to send its personnel and resources to set up mobile coronavirus testing centers, disinfect public facilities, and distribute medical supplies including face masks, gloves and surgical gowns.
House-quarantining, or stay-at-home orders, are scheduled to take effect on Sunday evening in New York. The Army Corps of Engineers has said it plans to take over hotels, sports arenas, college dorms and other buildings to cope with the growing number or residents requiring medical care.
Growing alarm over the fast spread of the virus in US population centers comes as the American Red Cross announced it is facing a shortage of blood donations drop by 150,000 as centers close across the US.
The warning comes as researchers at Columbia University said even if the US cuts its rate of transmission in half, 650,000 people might become infected in the next two months.
The study is based on a New York Times database of known infections to model how coronavirus transmission could develop.
Health authorities, meanwhile, have announced a worsening shortage of masks and gowns need by health workers as thousands flood hospitals and testing stations. Panic buying at supermarkets is accompanied by other efforts to stock up: gun shops in upstate New York and elsewhere have been flood with customers.
In Illinois, Governor Jay Pritzker announced on Friday asked all 12 million residents to leave the house only when necessary, starting Saturday. The Connecticut order came on Friday also.
Other orders have been issued at the city level.
New Orleans mayor LaToya Cantrell issued a similar order, asking the city’s 390,000 residents to go out for “critical needs only.”
Wall Street ended its worst week since the 2008 financial crisis with the Dow below where it stood on the day before Donald Trump was inaugurated. The S&P 500, which fell more than 4%, is not far from that mark as well. The president has trumpeted the so-called “Trump bump” throughout his presidency as evidence of his success.
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