US states ease coronavirus lockdown, people get pedicures
Even as the confirmed US death toll from the coronavirus soared past 50,000, Georgia, Oklahoma and Alaska began loosening lockdown orders today.
Even as the confirmed US death toll from the coronavirus soared past 50,000, Georgia, Oklahoma and Alaska began loosening lockdown orders today (local time) on their pandemic-wounded businesses, despite warnings from health experts that the gradual steps toward normalcy might be happening too soon.
Republican governors in Georgia and Oklahoma allowed salons, spas and barbershops to reopen, while Alaska opened the way for restaurants to resume dine-in service and retail shops and other businesses to open their doors, all with limitations. Some Alaska municipalities chose to maintain stricter rules.
Though limited in scope, and subject to social-distancing restrictions, the reopenings marked a symbolic milestone in the debate raging in the United States – and the world – as to how quickly political leaders should lift economically damaging lockdown orders.
Similar scenarios have been playing worldwide and will soon proliferate in the US as other governors wrestle with conflicting priorities.
Their economies have been battered by weeks of quarantine-fuelled job losses and soaring unemployment claims, yet health officials warn that lifting stay-at-home orders now could spark a resurgence of COVID-19.
The coronavirus has killed more than 190,000 people worldwide, including – as of Friday – more than 50,000 in the United States, according to a tally compiled by John Hopkins University from government figures. The actual death toll is believed to be far higher.
New cases are surging in Africa and Latin America as outbreaks subside in some places that were hit earlier.
In the US
In Oklahoma, Gov Kevin Stitt authorised personal-care businesses to open, citing a decline in the number of people being hospitalised for COVID-19.
Those businesses were directed to maintain social distancing, require masks and frequently sanitise equipment.
Still, some of the state's largest cities, including Norman, Oklahoma City and Tulsa, were opting to keep their bans in place until at least the end of April.
With deaths and infections still rising in Georgia, many business owners planned to stay closed despite Gov Brian Kemp's assurance that hospital visits and new cases have levelled off enough for barbers, tattoo artists, massage therapists and personal trainers to return to work with restrictions.
Gov Kemp's timeline to restart the economy proved too ambitious even for President Donald Trump, who said he disagrees with the fellow Republican's plan.
Today, Mr Trump signed a US$484 billion bill to aid employers and hospitals under stress from the pandemic – the latest federal effort to help keep afloat businesses that have had to close or scale down. Over the past five weeks, roughly 26 million people have filed for jobless aid, or about one in six US workers.
In Michigan, Gov Gretchen Whitmer lengthened her stay-at-home order through May 15, while lifting restrictions so some businesses can reopen and the public can participate in outdoor activities like golf and motorised boating during the coronavirus pandemic.
In Denver, Mayor Michael Hancock extended the city's stay-at-home order and non-essential business closures through May 8 just as Colorado Gov Jared Polis, a fellow Democrat, prepared to relax some statewide restrictions next week.
Without a tried-and-tested action plan for how to pull countries out of coronavirus lockdown, the world is seeing a patchwork of approaches.
Schools reopen in one country, stay closed in others; face masks are mandatory in some places, a recommendation elsewhere.
Kids still attend soccer practice in Sweden while they are not even allowed outside in Spain.
As governments and scientists fumble around, still struggling with so many unknowns, individuals are being left to take potentially life-affecting decisions.
In France, the government is leaving families to decide whether to keep children at home or send them back to class when the nationwide lockdown, in place since March 17, starts to be eased May 11.
In Spain, parents face a similarly knotty decision: whether to let kids get their first fresh air in weeks when the country starts Sunday (local time) to ease the total ban on letting them outside.
The slowing of Spain's horrific outbreak, which has killed more than 22,500 people, made the prospect of letting kids out feasible.
For the first time Friday, Spanish health authorities counted more people recovering from the disease in a 24-hour span than new infections.
Coronavirus: what you need to know
How is coronavirus transmitted?
The human coronavirus is only spread from someone infected with COVID-19 to another. This occurs through close contact with an infected person through contaminated droplets spread by coughing or sneezing, or by contact with contaminated hands or surfaces.
How can I protect myself and my family?
World Health Organisation and NSW Health both recommend basic hygiene practices as the best way to protect yourself from coronavirus.
Good hygiene includes:
- Clean your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitiser;
- Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with tissue or your elbow;
- Avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms;
- Apply safe food practices; and
- Stay home if you are sick.
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Reported with Associated Press.