CHICAGO, Illinois — Illinois and New York state joined California on Friday in ordering all residents to stay in their homes unless they have vital reasons to go out, restricting the movement of more than 70 million Americans in the most sweeping measures undertaken yet in the U.S. to contain the coronavirus.
The states’ governors acted in a bid to fend off the kind of onslaught that has caused the health system in southern Europe to buckle. The lockdowns encompass the three biggest cities in America — New York, Los Angeles and Chicago — as well as No. 8 San Diego and No. 14 San Francisco.
“No, this is not life as usual,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said as the death toll in the U.S. topped 200, with at least 35 in his state. “Accept it and realize it and deal with it.”
Cuomo said that starting Sunday, all workers in nonessential businesses must stay home as much as possible, and gatherings of any size will be banned in the state of over 19 million people.
"This is the most drastic action we can take," said Cuomo, whose state has the most confirmed cases of any state at more than 7,000. "These are not helpful hints... it's mandatory."
California likewise all but confined its 40 million residents on Friday, and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced a similar order set to take effect on Saturday for the state’s 12.6 million people.
Exceptions were made in all three states for essential jobs and errands, such as buying groceries and medicine, as well as for exercise.
“Only essential businesses can have workers commuting to the job or on the job,” Cuomo said. "We need everyone to be safe, otherwise no one can be safe. We’re going to close the valve, because the rate of increase in the number of cases portends a total overwhelming of our hospital system."
The increasingly drastic measures in the U.S. came as gasping patients filled the wards of hospitals in Spain and Italy, and the global death toll surpassed 11,000, with the virus gaining footholds in new corners of the world.
Illinois and New York joining California in taking these measure means that more than one in five Americans must now sequester themselves due to the outbreak.
President Donald Trump said Friday he doesn't anticipate ordering such measures nationwide, though his administration already has urged Americans not to gather in groups of more than 10.