A guide to lockdown in the United States

Due to the federal system in place in the USA, each of the country’s 50 states operates individually under its own leadership – and so the response to the worldwide threat of COVID-19 across the USA has been varied.

Lockdown recommendations have primarily been led under the guidance of President Trump, who first declared the virus as a national emergency on 13th March 2020. On this date, President Trump also announced he would be freeing up 50 billion dollars in federal resources to combat and fight against COVID-19.   

The first case

The first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the US on 21st January in the state of Washington, followed by the US Department of Health and Human Services announcing the Coronavirus as a public health emergency in the US on 31st January 2020.

On 31st January, President Trump signed an order which denied entry to the USA for any foreign nationals who had travelled to China during the preceding two weeks.  

The response from the 50 states of the USA

By the end of March, 42 of the 50 states had followed national recommendations and been put into lockdown – equalling around 308 million people, or 94% of the total US population.

By the middle of May 2020, 30 of these states have begun to ease their restrictions and allow certain businesses to begin trading again, with the level of response varying across the different states. US leaders say social distancing guidelines will remain in place throughout the Summer months, but that the mandatory lockdown orders must ease as more than 26 million American citizens seek unemployment protection (as of the end of April)

What does lockdown in the United States look like?

Throughout lockdown, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has been a source of general advice and recommendations for the USA, with recommendations including:

  • Staying at home
  • Only travelling if the trip is essential
  • Practicing social distancing, keeping 2m apart from others

For those in the United States, essential travel has been classed as:

  • Travelling to provide medical or home care to others
  • Travelling to or from a job which is considered an essential service

Other restrictions have seen businesses close across the country, with most states closing schools and public facilities. Many states also issued direct orders to avoid all non-essential outdoor activity as well as travel.

Mass events across the USA were discouraged by the CDC in a statement made on 15th March 2020, indicating that any large group gatherings or events would only contribute to the spread of the virus.

The rise of lockdown protests

In April, protests started popping up across the country, with groups gathering to demonstrate against the lockdown restrictions – from small groups in some states, to thousands of individuals in others. Protestors cited that the measures affecting movement and businesses were unnecessarily affecting citizens of the USA – calling the lockdown an ‘overreaction’.

USA lockdown in Numbers

The state most heavily affected by the Coronavirus has been New York, with 361,266 cases out of the total 1,550,294 cases confirmed across the USA.

The total number of deaths in the USA currently stands at 91,981 (as of 19th May 2020).

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