Oregon, New Mexico enact new virus restrictions as cases skyrocket
By William Wan, Mark Guarino and Hannah Knowles
Chicago was the first major city to announce, on Thursday, a reinstatement of stay-at-home orders. On Friday, New Mexico followed suit with the country’s most restrictive statewide measures since the fall surge began. Oregon also announced a partial shutdown Friday, closing gyms and dine-in restaurants and mandating a six-person limit on all social gatherings.
With the coronavirus raging out of control and hospitals nearing capacity, state and local leaders are facing once more the gut-wrenching decision of whether to order shutdowns.
Other states are trying to avoid full-blown lockdowns by enacting almost every other kind of restriction: nighttime curfews, bar closures, stricter mask mandates, 10-person gathering limits. California, Oregon and Washington urged residents this week to cancel nonessential travel. Vermont restricted nonessential travel into the state. New York City said its public schools could close as soon as Monday.
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) said the state is at a “breaking point” and reinstated the most heightened public health restrictions, including prohibiting onsite dining and requiring nonessential businesses to close their physical locations. The state recorded 1,742 coronavirus cases Thursday, a record.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced a two-week statewide “freeze” Friday, which included curbing gatherings ahead of Thanksgiving. The state just reported record hospitalizations and more than 1,000 daily cases for the first time, though its per capita infections in recent weeks are among the lowest in the country.
“Whether we like it nor not, we are about to face what might be the roughest days of the pandemic,” Brown said.
Officials say they are making such decisions under considerable pressure. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) said she called for lockdowns only after experts showed her projections that at least 1,000 people could die by year’s end unless the city took immediate action.
“If the possibility of 1,000 more people dying doesn’t grab you by the throat as it did me when I started to see that model, there’s very little we can do to move you,” she said. “People are dying. We’re seeing a daily uptick. This is literally a matter of life and death.”