One by one, governors in states across the country are implementing new coronavirus restrictions as cases hit record levels, with Minnesota, Kentucky and Kansas the latest to announce stricter measures Wednesday.
The drumbeat of orders comes during one of the pandemic’s darkest times: Nearly every state has recently set records for daily infections, virus hospitalizations continue to mount, and covid-19 killed more people Wednesday than on any day since May.
Minnesota bars, gyms and other nonessential businesses were ordered to close for four weeks beginning Friday after a series of targeted restrictions issued by Gov. Tim Walz (D) did not stop the state from reporting a new high for hospitalizations Wednesday. Restaurants are limited to takeout or delivery only.
Walz pointed to widespread community transmission identified through data collection as reason for the closures in an evening video statement.
“We now know that more than a third of the folks who are getting infected are coming from sources they don’t know,” he said. “That’s very, very dangerous because if we can’t test, if we can’t isolate, the spread exponentially grows.”
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) addressed the dire situation in his state at a news conference Wednesday evening, announcing a package of new restrictions.
“When fighting covid-19, action is unpopular but inaction is deadly,” Beshear said.
The state is ceasing in-person instruction in schools beginning next week, shutting down indoor service at bars and restaurants, slashing capacity limits at gyms, weddings and funerals, and limiting indoor gatherings to eight people and two households.
“People need to do a better job for the sake of others and the community,” Beshear said, urging residents to heed the restrictions.
Many of the state’s hospitals, he warned, are close to being “overwhelmed.”
In Kansas, Gov. Laura Kelly (D) is enacting a statewide mask mandate — the second time she has attempted the order. In July, most Kansas counties opted out of the mandate, and Republicans criticized the governor, saying the mandate was too sweeping.
This time, Kelly will give counties without a mandate a week to implement one of their own.
“As covid-19 continues to spread through Kansas communities and hospitalizations increase at concerning rates, it is clear we must take action to protect our communities and our economy,” Kelly said in a statement.
Elsewhere, counties are going beyond what states have ordered. In Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County, home to Pittsburgh, officials issued a stay-at-home order and advised residents to cancel Thanksgiving plans. In Los Angeles County, leaders announced plans for an overnight curfew on businesses.