California issues stay-at-home order, Pennsylvania restricts businesses

Governors in California and Pennsylvania took action this week to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus in their respective states.

On Thursday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom became the first governor to order residents of the state to stay home, an order affecting the state’s 40 million residents.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf ordered the closure of all “non-life-sustaining” businesses. That move was effective Thursday evening.

In a video recorded by The Los Angeles Times and available on YouTube, Newsom said the state is enacting the same stay-at-home rules already in place in six California counties.

“We need to recognize the reality,” Newsom said. “The experience we’re having on the ground throughout the state of California … requires us to adjust our thinking, and to adjust our activities.”

Californians aren’t completely restricted. They can still go to gas stations, pharmacies and grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks, convenience stores, restaurants with take-out and delivery options, banks and laundromats.

According to published reports, Newsom’s order also exempts critical workers such as food and agriculture, healthcare workers, transportation, energy, financial services and emergency responders, among others.

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According to information on the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 dashboard, California has had 952 cases and 18 deaths. Those are the kinds of statistics that apparently convinced Newsom to order the restrictions.

“We are confident that the people of California will abide by it,” Newsom said. “They’ll meet this moment, they’ll step up, as they have over the course of the last number of weeks.”

Meanwhile in Pennsylvania, Wolf’s order wasn’t a public curfew, but a restriction on businesses.

According to the Associated Press, Wolf cited his authority under the state’s disaster declaration law in ordering more than 150 types of businesses to close their physical locations, warning that enforcement against violators would begin Saturday. It was among the toughest measures yet taken by a U.S. governor in response to the virus pandemic.

“I had hoped for voluntary compliance so our public safety officials could focus on assisting with the crisis,” Wolf said in a video statement, according to the AP. “Unfortunately we have not seen full compliance. We have no time to lose.”

According to published reports, businesses that can still open under Wolf’s latest order: grocery stores, restaurants that have a take-out option, gas stations, medical facilities, news media companies, public utilities and various freight hauling, manufacturing, farming and other commercial businesses.

“This isn’t a decision that I take lightly at all … It’s one that I’m making because medical experts believe it’s the only way we can prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed by patients,” Wolf said, according to Philadelphia TV station 6abc Action News.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the state had seen 185 cases as of Thursday, March 19, with one death.

Worldwide, the death toll has topped 10,000, with more than 244,500 confirmed cases, according to the Johns Hopkins dashboard.