8 states and cities are slowing or pausing coronavirus reopening plans

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Patrons eat at Pere Antoine Restaurant after coronavirus restrictions were eased, allowing for 25% of permitted occupancy in stores and restaurants, New Orleans, Louisiana, May 16, 2020.

Kathleen Flynn/Reuters

As the US opens back up, the coronavirus is taking advantage of the new opportunities to spread.

As of Thursday, at least 29 states are seeing increases in daily coronavirus cases. The inclines are particularly steep in a number of Southern states, including Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Texas. Many are reporting more cases than they’ve ever seen on a daily basis.

“This is a continuation of the first wave,” Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security, told Business Insider. “Some places that might have been relatively spared early on in the winter and the spring are now facing cases higher than they had before.”

As a result, many states and cities are dialing back their reopening efforts, reverting to earlier phases or postponing next steps.

Here are the places that are slowing down or walking back their reopening plans.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott just paused his state’s reopening plan. It was the latest in a series of leaders’ decisions to delay lockdown lifts.

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott displays COVID-19 test collection vials during a press conference on March 18, 2020 in Arlington, Texas.

Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Abbott announced the pause on Thursday, saying businesses that have already reopened would be allowed to continue operating at limited capacity. 

“The last thing we want to do as a state is go backwards and close down businesses,” he said in a statement. “This temporary pause will help our state corral the spread until we can safely enter the next phase of opening our state for business.”

Texas was one of the first states in the country to start reopening from its coronavirus lockdown in early May. The state has seen a surge in cases since then.

On Tuesday alone, more than 5,000 new cases were reported in Texas — a number Abbott described as a “massive outbreak.” Then on Wednesday, the state reported more than 6,500 more cases.

Dr. Peter Hotez, who is working on developing a COVID-19 vaccine, called Texas’s situation “absolutely horrifying.” He told the BBC that what’s unfolding there is a “humanitarian catastrophe.”

Louisiana postponed its next reopening phase by a month.

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A worker stands outside of Mambo’s on Bourbon Street, after lockdown restrictions were eased in New Orleans, Louisiana, May 16, 2020.

Kathleen Flynn/Reuters

The state will continue in phase 2 — which allows most businesses and places of worship to operate at half capacity with social distancing — for at least another 28 days, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced on Monday. He added that officials would do “another deep data dive” in two weeks to determine whether the state was ready to move on to phase 3.

“This is not the direction we want to be headed in,” Edwards said, according to WWL-TV. “We need to do a better job of wearing masks when we aren’t at home.” 

Edwards added that the rise in cases is “more than can be fairly attributed to the growth in testing,” especially since hospitalizations have risen steeply alongside case counts. 

Louisiana has reported more than 53,400 cases and 3,100 deaths as of Thursday.

North Carolina, too, has paused its plans to move to phase 3.

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Protesters hold signs at a ReOpenNC rally against the state’s shutdown in Raleigh, North Carolina, April 21, 2020.

Rachel Jessen/Reuters

On Wednesday, Gov. Roy Cooper announced that the state would remain in phase 2 for another three weeks. He also mandated face masks in public places.

“North Carolina is relying on the data and the science to lift restrictions responsibly, and right now our increasing numbers show we need to hit the pause button while we work to stabilize our trends,” Cooper said in a statement.

Nevada is also waiting a few more weeks before considering phase 3.

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John Landin of Las Vegas celebrates after winning a hand of blackjack during the reopening of The D hotel-casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, June 4, 2020.

Steve Marcus/Reuters

Since the state reopened its casinos in early June, Nevada’s seven-day average case count has risen steeply, quickly outpacing previous months.

That showed the state was “not ready” for phase 3, Gov. Steve Sisolak said when he announced the phase’s postponement on June 15.

According to White House guidelines, phase 3 could allow employers to bring staff back into work without restrictions, reopen senior care facilities and hospitals to visitors, increase occupancy for bars, and allow sporting venues and movie theaters to reopen.

“Nevadans have made enormous sacrifices to get us to where we are today,” Sisolak said in a press conference. “I don’t want to let that all go for naught by us having to take a giant step backwards.”

Nevada’s case count has risen by 41% in the last two weeks.

Maine has postponed the reopening of indoor bars.

A bartender wearing a facemask and gloves makes drinks at Eight Row Flint in Houston, Texas, on May 22, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

A bartender wearing a face mask and gloves makes drinks at Eight Row Flint in Houston, Texas, on May 22, 2020.

Mark Felix/AFP via Getty Images

The state’s initial reopening plan called for bars to resume indoor service starting July 1. But on Monday, Gov. Janet Mills put that plan on the back-burner “until further notice.”

Bars in Maine can continue outdoor service, and restaurants that have bars can continue seating guests inside with proper social distancing and capacity limitations.

“Indoor bar service typically features crowds, often in close contact with one another, often without tables or other ways of keeping people apart,” Jeanne Lambrew, commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, said of the announcement, according to the Portland Press-Herald. “Smaller spaces in many bars makes physically distancing very difficult. Further, individuals may be less likely to wear cloth face coverings in bars.”

Coronavirus outbreaks in Michigan, Idaho, and Louisiana have been linked to indoor groups of patrons at bars.

Oregon halted all new reopenings for a week in mid-June, and recently mandated face masks in indoor public places for most residents.

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A nurse holds a sign at the ReOpen Oregon rally on May 2, 2020 in Salem, Oregon.

Terray Sylvester/Getty Images

“This is essentially a statewide ‘yellow light,'” Gov. Kate Brown said in a statement when she announced the temporary pause on county reopenings. “This one-week pause will give public-health experts time to assess what factors are driving the spread of the virus and determine if we need to adjust our approach to reopening.”

As of Wednesday, people in seven of Oregon’s most populous counties are required to wear face masks in stores and other indoor public places.

Idaho is “tapping on the breaks,” Gov. Brad Little announced on Thursday.

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A truck with an upside-down American flag in the parking lot during an Easter Sunday church service organized by libertarian activist Ammon Bundy, in Emmett, Idaho, April 12, 2020.

Jim Urquhart/Reuters

The state did not meet its own criteria for the final stage of reopening, Little said in a press conference.

The state’s epidemiologist, Dr. Christine Hahn, said emergency rooms in Idaho are seeing more and more patients with coronavirus-like symptoms. She added that more healthcare workers are testing positive as well.

Twice this week, Idaho’s daily new case count has surpassed its previous peak from April, with hundreds of new people testing positive.

Idaho will remain in Stage 4 for at least two more weeks, ensuring that businesses maintain social distancing protocols and employers make accommodations for workers vulnerable to severe infection.

In two weeks, Little said, “we’ll examine the numbers again.”

Boise and its surrounding county had already reversed course, reverting to an earlier stage of the reopening plan and shuttering bars and nightclubs.

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Metal horse sculptures are fitted with face masks in the town of Hailey in Blaine County, Idaho, April 13, 2020.

Jim Urquhart/Reuters

Ada County, which encompasses the city of Boise, broke course with the rest of Idaho and reverted to stage 3 on Monday. 

The reversal forced bars and nightclubs to close again, reinstated work-from-home recommendations, and limited gatherings to fewer than 50 people.

The area has seen little transmission of the virus in the last few months, with fewer than 10 people testing positive each day, but that changed abruptly in recent weeks. Ada County has seen 579 new cases since June 15.

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By |2020-06-26T03:27:39+00:00June 26th, 2020|Business|Comments Off on 8 states and cities are slowing or pausing coronavirus reopening plans
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