Politicians across the United States who pushed for the most restrictive coronavirus rules have recently reversed course on the restrictions and decided to focus on reopening.
After implementing some of the strictest lockdowns in the country for nearly ten months, Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Jan. 11 on Twitter that the state needed to focus on reopening.
“We simply cannot stay closed until the vaccine hits critical mass,” Cuomo said. “The cost is too high. We will have nothing left to open. We must reopen the economy, but we must do it smartly and safely.” (RELATED: After Forcing Thousands Of Businesses To Shut Down, Cuomo Now Says The ‘Cost’ Of Staying Closed Is ‘Too High’)
We simply cannot stay closed until the vaccine hits critical mass. The cost is too high. We will have nothing left to open. We must reopen the economy, but we must do it smartly and safely.#SOTS2021
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) January 11, 2021
In March of 2020, Cuomo implemented strict lockdown orders which mandated that all citizens, excluding essential workers, stayed home. “I believe these policies will save lives,” Cuomo said at the time, according to NPR. “And I’m not willing to put a price on a human life.”
Shortly after Cuomo put the March lockdowns in place, there were 6,481 people hospitalized, according to data from the New York State website. There are currently 9,055 people hospitalized.
Cuomo said during a news conference that although case numbers in New York have been declining, 22 cases of the new UK coronavirus strain have been detected so far in the state, including four new cases that were detected Thursday.
After closing schools for nearly 10 months and implementing rigid coronavirus restrictions, Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently released a rationale for reopening schools. The reasons listed were “schools are essential,” “schools are lower risk when they implement key strategies” and “the state of Michigan is committed to supporting schools operate safely.”
Re-opening schools, however, appears to go against the state’s own guidelines. The Michigan Safe Start Map puts all regions in the state in risk level “E,” which is the highest risk level possible, as of Jan. 9.
Whitmer released a Safe Start Plan May 7 which said that schools should remain closed if they are in the fourth-highest risk level or higher on the Safe Start Map, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy first reported. Later guidelines released June 30 said that schools should remain closed if they were in the third-highest risk level or higher. (RELATED: State Representative Calls For Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer To Be Impeached After Announcing Latest Coronavirus Restrictions)
Democratic Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot also advocated for re-opening bars and restaurants “as soon as possible” during a Jan. 14 press conference.
“I am very, very focused on getting our restaurants reopened. If we look at the various criteria that the state has set, we are meeting most if not all of those. So that’s a conversation that I will have with the governor,” Lightfoot said, according to the Chicago Tribune. “But I want to get our restaurants and our bars reopened as quickly as possible.”
Lightfoot’s statement comes just four days after the mayor extended a stay-at-home advisory by 12 days. Chicago’s stay-at-home advisory – which limits indoor and outdoor gatherings, travel and dining – was extended in response to a sharp rise in coronavirus-related hospitalizations, ABC7 News reported. Chicago met the standard for Phase IV reopening as of Thursday, according to the state’s website.
Despite the number of coronavirus cases being too high to reopen based on past criteria, Democratic Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Thursday that indoor dining would be allowed beginning Friday, Jan. 22.
Her announcement comes in spite of the city’s rules requiring indoor dining to be prohibited if the city is in the “red zone,” or a daily average of more than 15 new cases per 100,000 residents. D.C. reported 36.7 cases per 100,000 residents Thursday, according to the Washington Post.