By Juliana Walter
All over the country, state officials are increasingly making announcements about new protocols for its citizens in fighting COVID-19.
The large majority of students at The University of Tampa’s are out-of-state students, especially from the Northeast region. Many of these states have been intensifying lockdowns all throughout businesses.
Twenty-two states across the country, including California, New York, and Washington State, have issued government orders to “shelter in place.” This order requires citizens to stay in their houses except for necessary trips to places like to the store or the hospital. Overall, these state orders have affected over 216 million people in the United States. And with the U.S. COVID-19 case numbers rapidly increasing, other states who have not yet adopted these policies are expected to follow soon.
Rob Keane, sophomore international business major, is originally from Pleasantville, New York, a large suburb 15 minutes outside of New York City.
“I think the city is doing a good job of managing the virus but they could always do more. Our governor is doing the best he can with limited resources,” said Keane. “I think it’s very appropriate to have the measures in place due to the amount of trouble the city is already having in Queens.”
New York City has nearly 74,000 cases in the city limits alone and is being considered the epicenter of the virus. In response, the city with a population of over 8 million people, looks nearly empty as police enforce social distancing rules.
“People need to social distance. Even if you don’t live in a big city or a virus hotspot practice social distancing,” said Keane.
Many states, like Florida, Texas, and Pennsylvania, have only ordered certain parts of the state to have mandatory shelter in places. These orders are focused on the state’s big cities. Fifteen other states across the nation are following suit.
Bailee Jones, junior communications major, is a Florida native. She is remaining in her apartment in the Tampa area, despite UT moving to online classes.
“I honestly think the state [of Florida] should be doing more,” said Jones. “They only shut down the counties that have cases. Obviously, people are still not taking the risk seriously enough and still going out, so I think it’s time to take bigger action.”
Then there are other states, like Maryland, Virginia, and Nevada, who have not issued any formal order for their citizens to remain at home. Most states in this category have closed all “non-essential” businesses but continue to allow people in public places.
While many people believe shutting businesses and forcing citizens to stay home oversteps the states’ boundaries, it is for the protection of a large portion of the American population. Younger citizens, like the thousands of spring breakers on Florida beaches, are reported to have drastically lower chances of COVID-19 threatening their lives. But, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, with 15% of the population being over 65 years old, still many people are threatened by this virus.
All over social media, memes are being constantly shared about COVID-19. While some of these posts are citizens participating in activities that could potentially infect vulnerable people, many of them are encouraging many younger people to practice social distancing. The harsh criticism of Clearwater and Fort Lauderdale beaches is an example of this.
Despite many Americans being “trapped” in their houses for a foreseeable future, the global health crisis is more important than concerns of boredom that many kids have expressed over social media. Officials in states with mandatory orders to stay at home have seen a slowdown in their number of rising cases. Take Washington state as an example. Despite having the first confirmed case of COVID-19, followed by the first U.S. death, the state acted quickly to enforce social distancing.
In the past two weeks, Washington state has seen a decrease from COVID-19 cases doubling every five days to doubling every nine days according to the New York Times. And while the curve in Washington has not flattened, it has gone down some days even just this week.
For the 38 states that have not issued mandatory orders to stay at home, Washington and other states who were quick to act should be an example. States like Maryland and Virginia, whose cases have tripled in the past two weeks, need to do their part in containing and fighting this virus by mandating an order for citizens to stay at home.
With states like Florida, it is pertinent that all areas of the state begin to take more precaution. Currently Florida has the highest percentage of elderly residents in the U.S, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Not only this, but the increased numbers of spring travelers have raised case numbers in the state but also to the areas that these individuals traveled back home to.
“For other states, I commend the ones that are doing the most that they can. I think it’s amazing the sacrifices and struggles people are going through to protect to the greater good,” said Jones. “But, all states should be doing the most, because it will be a lot easier to save lives and be ‘over dramatic’ than do nothing and have more people die.”
Juliana Grace can be reached at Juliana.firstname.lastname@example.org