SATURDAY, March 21, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Governors in a total of five states — California, Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey and New York — have now advised residents to stay at home indefinitely as of Saturday, meaning that about one in every four Americans now lives under such “shelter in place” orders.
“I don’t come to this decision easily,” Illinois governor J.B Pritzker told residents in a Friday news briefing. “I fully recognize that in some cases, I am choosing between saving people’s lives and saving people’s livelihoods. But ultimately you can’t have a livelihood if you don’t have your life.”
Meanwhile, the federal government warned Americans to avoid international travel and, if they are already abroad, to return home before flights into the United States become unavailable.
And as national coronavirus cases climbed past 18,000, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during a White House briefing on Friday that the borders with Canada and Mexico will be closed to everyone but essential travelers, beginning at midnight on Saturday.
“We’re going to close the valve, because the rate of increase in the number of cases portends a total overwhelming of our hospital system,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said as cases in that state climbed to more than 8,300, The New York Times reported.
California, which issued its stay at home order Thursday night, will remain that way until “further notice,” the governor’s office said. Residents of San Francisco and Los Angeles were issued similar orders earlier this week. The state has had at least 1,000 coronavirus cases and 19 deaths, CNN reported.
“There’s a social contract here. People I think recognize the need to do more and to meet this moment,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a news conference streamed on social media. “People will self-regulate their behavior, they’ll begin to adjust and adapt as they have been quite significantly.”
Hours earlier, the State Department raised its global health advisory to the highest warning level and announced that Americans should not travel outside the country and citizens abroad should either return home or stay in place as the coronavirus pandemic grows, the Times reported.
“If you choose to travel internationally, your travel plans may be severely disrupted, and you may be forced to remain outside of the United States for an indefinite time frame,” the advisory warned.
On Wednesday, President Donald Trump signed an $850 billion coronavirus relief package into law.
The package will provide sick leave, unemployment benefits and free coronavirus testing.
Even as the legislation became law, the drafting of a $1 trillion economic stabilization package is already underway. That package would send $500 billion in direct payments to taxpayers and provide loans to businesses, the Times reported.
Trump also invoked a wartime law on Wednesday that would allow the federal government to direct companies to produce medical supplies if needed.
As countries around the…