Seventeen states across the U.S. have not found it prudent to issue orders for their residents to remain at home except in essential or extreme instances.
But with the increasing number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the District and throughout the greater Washington area, Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a stay-at-home order for D.C. which took effect at midnight Tuesday. The order reaffirms Bowser’s direction to residents to stay at home except to perform essential activities and joins orders already in effect by governors in both Maryland and Virginia.
“Our message remains the same: stay home,” Bowser said. “Staying at home is the best way to flatten the curve and protect yourself, your family, and our entire community from COVID-19. Many people want to know how they can help right now, and for most people this is how — by staying home.”
The mayor’s order specifies that residents may only leave their residences to: engage in essential activities, including obtaining medical care that cannot be provided through telehealth and obtaining food and essential household goods; perform or access essential governmental functions; work at essential businesses; engage in essential travel; or engage in allowable recreational activities, as defined by the mayor’s order.
Any individual who willfully violates the stay-at-home order may be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, subject to a fine not exceeding $5,000, imprisonment for not more than 90 days, or both.
On the national front, President Donald Trump warned the U.S. on Tuesday during his press briefing to prepare for a “painful” and “tough” two-week stretch ahead as he extended nationwide distancing measures that could still equate to between 100,000 and up to 240,000 Americans die from coronavirus.
Trump’s announcement remained sober given his stance just weeks ago when he downplayed the severity of the virus and questioned its potential impact in the U.S.
However, he has since reversed his position and did not minimize the most severe public health crisis the country has faced in decades during his more than two-hour announcement. Instead, he advised Americans that darker days are still to come.
“I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead,” he said, pointing to predictions for a period during which death rates will most assuredly spike. He further warned that without community mitigation, the models predict that 1.5 million to 2.2 million Americans could die from COVID-19 complications.
In New York City, the death toll rose past 3,800 Tuesday, eclipsing the total from the 9/11 terror attacks as the Big Apple “traded Ground Zero for epicenter.” More than 900 people have died from the coronavirus in Manhattan alone prompting the opening of temporary hospitals in a convention center, on a Navy ship and in Central Park with refrigeration trucks now being used as temporary morgues. However, health experts say there’s still cause to remain optimistic as social distancing appears to be working adding that the rate of increase of New York City cases should begin to slow.
Local Residents Reflect on Stay-at-Home Orders
The Washington Informer reached out to our online readers on Facebook and other forms of social media to ask how the recently-imposed stay-at-home orders have changed their lives and whether they feel more hopeful or pessimistic about the future. Here are a few of their responses, abbreviated due to available space:
Curtis Hardison, Southeast: Unlike the previous shutdown, which had a devastating effect on us, we were practically stocked up before corona hit but have made several strategic trips for additional supplies. We’re working from home and submitting multiple proposals for future work. If people comply with the orders, it will be effective as has been proven in other countries but many, many people simply must [not] leave their homes in order to survive this thing. I’m the most disgustingly optimistic person that I know and have full confidence that the two most recent generations will make great strides in repairing decades of social, environmental, economic and religious-based abuses and damage to our country and beyond.
Morgan C. Fykes, 35, Northwest: I’ve been staying home for over two weeks; it’s frustrating that it took this long for the orders to come down. I’ve gone from having four jobs in events and food and beverage to having one part-time job that I’m trying to expand. I’m more worried about staying alive than making money at the moment but it’s going to start to be a problem the longer this goes on. I’m sad that more people are going to die because we didn’t take unified action sooner but I’m hopeful that we can survive this and come out better and stronger. I will be highly disappointed if we return to “business as usual.”
Phyllicia M. Hatton, 62, Southeast: Actually, I have adapted well. I’m accustomed to working at home (home-based business), however, I sorely miss face to face and hugs and worshipping with church family. I don’t have much of a challenge with being with me and always have something to do and catch up with loved ones via phone. I’ve learned to keep the pantry filled at all times from my parents. Living and growing up in the mountains as my mother did, you make it a habit to be prepared. The experts say we have a way to go but I’m always optimistic given God’s grace, abiding love and faithfulness even though we may not all live to see a new earthly existence. However, I’m preparing and looking forward to greater opportunities in my relationships, personally, professionally and financially.
Antoinette Moore Ross, 60, Southeast: Luckily, I’ve been a teleworker for many years now, so staying at home doesn’t bother me so much. I hope people will comply with the new orders but I still see many folks out and about. I’m praying for the best but I’m also bracing for the worst. I’ve already lost classmates and family friends from COVID-19. The unknown is horrible to me.
Vera Abbott, 86, Southwest: I will not complain, I appreciate my wonderful family and friends and I pray for God to keep you and yours healthy, safe and sound during the worst health crisis I’ve witnessed during my lifetime. As a retiree, I’m comfortable staying at home.
Emma P. Ward, 75, Southwest: Stay at home has affected me tremendously because as a substitute teacher, I’m unable to interact with students. I have had an opportunity to read more and am enjoying Chicken Soup for the Soul.” Decluttering is foremost like finding my son’s first pair of shoes — he’s now 40. Now, I’m taking time to focus and plan for things I’ve always wanted to do including more sleep — my hours of rest are way out of sync. And while I’m optimistic, some things will never be done the same as a result of this crisis.
Robert R. Roberts, 70, Silver Spring: As far as staying at home, professionally [as a Black Press photographer], I’m like dead in the water. There’s little or nothing to do but take pictures around the house or read a few books that I’ve always wanted. The good part is to do some work around the house especially outdoors. Everyone is following the orders about staying home and keeping their distance. Am I optimistic? Not really. I have no faith in the Trump administration to help our nation. I think we’ll pull through but it’s going to take a long time.
Elizabeth Primas, 71, Northeast: Working from home isn’t a problem since I use technology for my job. But I’m cooking and eating more so I’ve gained some weight and also doing some spring cleaning. The new orders worked in China; we have to do everything to flatten the curve. I’m optimistic about the future — pandemics have occurred before and mankind will survive. There will undoubtedly be medical advances made and hopefully after this period of isolation, people will begin to appreciate each other more.
Christopher McLaughlin, 44, Southeast: The stay-at-home order has affected me professionally because the hair business in D.C. was already at a slow crawl before the virus hit. With the new orders, it has been devastating and no one is working at all. I think the orders will only prove effective if people take this virus serious and stay home, point-blank, period. I’m kind of optimistic about the future because they say you have to tear down the old to make way for the new. On the other hand, I’m pessimistic because the leadership of this country has become a joke.