With over 5,000 cases of coronavirus and 91 deaths so far, the US government is putting ever more stringent measures and guidelines in place to protect the American public and curb the spread of the outbreak.
In a recent public statement, Donald Trump urged Americans to avoid gatherings of ten people or more, keep a safe distance, and follow other precautions.
This happened after a report published by the scientists of Imperial College in London warned about the previously underappreciated risks posed by the virus. The report focused on the US as much as the UK, suggesting that unless immediate action was taken, the US death toll would reach hundreds of thousands.
We’ve compiled everything you need to know about the current situation in the US, including flights, events, and other services – fully up to date on March 17th, but subject to change.
The US border policies remain unchanged and unaffected by coronavirus so far.
However, commercial passenger airlines have been experiencing a significant dip in ticket sales and other difficulties associated with the closure of many airports around the world.
This means that many flights are being cancelled, either as a result of airline cut-backs or border restrictions in the destination country.
Before heading to the airport, check for updates on your flights to make sure it’s still scheduled to go ahead. It’s also important to check the regulations and restrictions you’re to expect upon arrival – a number of countries have introduced quarantines to new arrivals or banned foreign visitors from entering altogether.
If returning to US from a trip abroad, expect delays at the airport. You will likely be required to undergo a medical screening before being allowed to enter the country.
As of March 17th, when Donald Trump announced the new, more stringent guidelines to adhere to during the outbreak, many public places such as restaurants and venues are closing, or at least limiting their services. Even outdoor activities may be limited by coronavirus precautions – some public beaches are also closing.
Americans are advised to keep away from public gatherings, stay at home as much as possible, and keep a distance from others.
Specific guidelines vary from state to state. For instance, in New Jersey, residents are advised to stay at home from 8PM until 5AM. In the Bay Area, millions of residents are under orders to remain indoors at all times, though local (city) laws may offer an exception – such as San Francisco, where individuals are allowed to go outside, provided they keep at least 6 feet of distance between themselves and other people.
It’s important to check the guidelines for your local area – both state and city – and follow those as closely as possible.
In the US, quarantine is obligatory not only for anyone who’s sick, but also for other members of the same household – according to the latest guidelines.
Quarantine involves staying at home or another designated location, and avoiding social contact for a period of 14 days to ensure that you don’t present with symptoms of coronavirus. The US Constitution grants the federal government quarantine authority – meaning that you could be ordered to go into quarantine, and disobeying would be equal to breaking the law.
You can find out more about your rights in a quarantine here.
It’s up to each individual state to make the decision regarding closing schools in light of coronavirus. Most of them have – on March 15th, 11 states joined the previous 19 to have introduced school closures.
In his latest public statement, Donald Trump encouraged working and studying remotely wherever possible.
Arts, entertainment, and events
Depending on state regulations, many cinemas, theatres, galleries, and other arts and entertainment venues have been closed. Where allowed to continue operating, in many cases they have reduced audience capacity by half, to avoid overcrowding and enable the maintenance of a safer distance between individuals.
Many music festivals, including Miami’s Ultra Music Festival and Austin’s SXSW, are being cancelled. Others, such as Coachella, have so far only been postponed.
Unsurprisingly, most sporting events are also on hold. Almost all professional US sports leagues have suspended play, including the NHL, USL, Major League Baseball, and Major League Soccer.
Please note that while the above information is correct at the time of writing, the situation is ever-changing. It’s important to keep checking for updates and depend on the latest information.