By Tyler Olson | Fox News
Even more governors tightened restrictions across the U.S. in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus, as Americans yet again are reportedly dealing with long lines and wait times for results of coronavirus tests ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.
Governors in California, Maine, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Arkansas joined a slew of other states in announcing new limits on where residents can go, what they can do, and who they can be with as virus cases continue to rise. On Thursday, new cases in the U.S. again exceeded 170,000 according to Johns Hopkins University, far higher than the numbers seen in the surges of the spring or the summer.
Meanwhile, many coronavirus testing sites around the country are seeing a growing number of Americans attempting to get tested and are unable to efficiently handle the rush, according to reports. CBS Denver reported that some testing sites in Colorado were reaching their capacity by about 9 a.m. The New York Times last week reported hours-long lines for tests in that state.
The Baltimore Sun reported that in Maryland, some sites are also struggling to handle lines as Gov. Larry Hogan urges those entering the state for the Thanksgiving holiday to get coronavirus tests.
The new orders in Maine and California were particularly stringent, joining states like Minnesota, Kentucky, Oregon, and Michigan which put highly restrictive bans on inter-household gatherings that would upend many families’ Thanksgiving plans.
Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo Thursday issued a “social gathering limit” that bars anyone in the state from spending time in a social setting with anybody from outside of their household. Other states have limited gatherings to two or three households, but Raimondo joins just Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz in barring social gatherings of any different households.
This, according to Raimondo, means family members that don’t live together may not spend Thanksgiving together.
“Starting today, we’re lowering the social gathering limit to a single household,” she said. “This means you should not be spending time socially with anyone you don’t live with — this includes on Thanksgiving.”
Raimondo also gave notice of a plan to start what she termed a “two-week-pause” on Nov. 30, which is the Monday after Thanksgiving. That pause includes closures of bars, offices where workers can telecommute, in-person college classes, indoor sports facilities besides NCAA and professional sports, and more.
The pause will also involve a 25% or 125-person occupancy limit on houses of worship, a 33% capacity limit on indoor dining with one household allowed per table, and limited capacity in retail stores. In-person pre-school and middle school; child care; personal services like barbers; and health care will remain open.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom also partially brought back his stay-at-home orders from earlier this year.
Newsom ordered that all counties in the state’s “purple” tier or higher in terms of coronavirus cases enter a partial stay-at-home order, meaning that people may not leave their residences for anything besides essential work between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. It begins Saturday at 10 p.m. and continues through much of December.
“Due to the rise in #COVID19 cases, CA is issuing a limited Stay at Home Order,” Newsom said in a tweet. “Non-essential work and gatherings must stop from 10 pm-5 am in counties in the purple tier. This will take effect at 10 pm on Saturday and remain for 1 month. Together–we can flatten the curve again.”
California does not have as strict a social gathering limit as Rhode Island, however.
The California Department of Public Health recommends that families keep their Thanksgiving celebrations brief and hold them outdoors. It also recommends that only two households mark the holiday together.
That is just a recommendation, however. The department mandates issues last week caps gatherings at three households in California.
Also banned are certain activities at indoor gatherings, according to the California Department of Public Health.
“Singing, chanting, shouting, cheering, playing of wind instruments and similar activities are not permitted in indoor gatherings,” the department says. It also discourages, but does not ban, these activities outdoors.
Maine, Arkansas, and New Hampshire also announced coronavirus mitigation orders, though they were not as draconian as those in California and Rhode Island.
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu issued a mask mandate for indoor public spaces and outdoor areas where social distancing is not possible. Sununu, a Republican, joins a handful of other GOP governors in embracing mask mandates, notably following North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum who issued a mask mandate last Friday after for months saying he would not do so.