In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order on Thursday stopping dine-in service at restaurants and bars, officially shutting down all schools and gyms, and barring gatherings of more than 10 people statewide. The order, effective at midnight, imposes stringent new regulations similar to those in place in other states on the 28 million residents of Texas.
Known for its independent spirit and pro-business stance, Texas had previously left it to local officials to decide what restrictions were necessary. But by Thursday, Mr. Abbott said serious action had become necessary as numbers in the state had rapidly accelerated over the past week.
The state also declared a public health disaster for the first time since 1901, Mr. Abbott said.
In Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf on Thursday said he was ordering all non-life sustaining businesses to close by 8 p.m. “Enforcement actions against businesses that don’t close will begin Saturday and could include citations, fines & license suspensions,” he said on Twitter.
In Georgia, all members of the State Legislature were being asked to self-quarantine on Thursday after a state senator who voted at the Capitol earlier this week tested positive for the coronavirus. In Kentucky, the Louisville mayor reported that his wife had tested positive for the virus. And in New York, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo waived mortgage payments for 90 days for people facing hardship, while also warning against fear and panic.
“I spend half my day knocking down rumors that we are going to lock people in their homes,” Mr. Cuomo said, noting that New York City seemed to be at “near panic levels.”
“I am not going to imprison anyone in the state of New York in their homes,” he said. “I am not going to declare martial law in the state of New York.”
Some states were also recognizing the ongoing need for basic necessities, including food, by classifying grocery store workers as emergency personnel. In Minnesota this week, Gov. Tim Walz passed an executive order recognizing store clerks, stockers, food preparation personnel, cleaning staff and deli staff as “Emergency Tier 2” workers, which will allow the workers to receive free child care.
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