Governors, facing pressures on all sides, weigh reopening their states

Shaila Dewan and Vanessa Swales,

The New York Times Company

April 27, 2020

Facing the same competing pressures between keeping people safe in a pandemic and reviving some elements of a more functioning society, governors around the country Sunday made their case for steps they were taking — or not taking — to begin reopening.

Their efforts reflected the halting patchwork of attempts by several states to begin moving past severe restrictions in the face of the coronavirus, as a cascade of stay-at-home orders began to expire.

As Colorado’s order ended this weekend, Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, defended his moves to relax some social distancing restrictions, allowing curbside retail deliveries and soon allowing the reopening of workplaces at half capacity and the resumption of elective surgeries.

“What matters a lot more than the date that the stay-at-home ends is what we do going forward, and how we have an ongoing, sustainable way, psychologically, economically and from the health perspective, to have the social distancing we need,” he said Sunday morning on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “Otherwise, if we can’t succeed in doing that on an ongoing basis, the stay-at-home was for nothing.”

In Georgia, there were haircuts, manicures and even massages. In Montana, churches resumed in-person services. And in Alaska, there were restaurant tables to be had — reservations only, no walk-ins. In California, people flocked to open beaches in Ventura and Orange counties.

Only a handful of states began to ease their lockdowns. Some, like Michigan and Hawaii, extended stay-at-home orders with some modest changes. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, outlined a plan that could allow some “low-risk” businesses in upstate New York to open as soon as mid-May.

About a dozen states have restrictions that are set to expire in the coming days, and for most, it remains to be seen whether they will be renewed.

In Oklahoma, Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican, said the state’s restrictions had accomplished what they were meant to: allowing time to increase the number of available hospital beds and flatten the curve of new infections.

“March 30 we had, we peaked at hospitalizations, with 560 across the state,” Stitt said on “Fox News Sunday.”

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