The governors of Alabama and Missouri on Friday announced stay-at-home orders, leaving only a handful of state holdouts that continue to defy expert advice to self-quarantine to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic as cases continue to rise.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said the order there will take effect at 5 p.m. on Saturday and run through 5 p.m. on April 30. Meanwhile, Gov. Mike Parson said the Missouri order will start later and end earlier. It will become effective at 12:01 a.m. on Monday April 6 until 11:59 p.m. on Friday April 24.
Both governors had previously resisted calls by medical and health experts who have been urging lawmakers to take immediate action, including Anthony Fauci, the government's top infectious disease expert.
"I don't understand why it's not happening," Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Thursday on CNN.
Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Carolina and South Dakota have yet to implement statewide stay-at-home orders.
Ivey and Parson said the new orders tell all residents to refrain from spending unnecessary time outside except for "essential activities" and that they take reasonable steps to maintain six feet of separation when they must leave their homes. Neither order prohibits people from accessing essential services, including grocery stores, gas stations and banks, or engaging in outdoor recreation.
"We've taken several aggressive actions to reduce the spread of COVID-19," Ivey wrote in a tweet.
She added she and state health officials "have tried everything we knew to do to keep from having to take this next step. But late yesterday, it became obvious that more had to be done."
The move comes as Alabama is seeing an increasing number of positive tests every day, with at least 1,500 in total. At least 21 people have died.
Ivey said officials expect a peak surge to occur in the next two to three weeks.
Parson's announcement in Missouri came as the state surpassed 2,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and the death toll reached 19.
"There comes a time when we have to make major sacrifices in our lives. Many of us make sacrifices each and every day, but now more than ever, we must all make sacrifices," Parson said. "This is not about any one individual person. This is about our families, friends, neighbors, and the entire state of Missouri."
As of Friday the number of cases in the United States was more than 275,000, according to Johns Hopkins University, which has been tracking the pandemic. More than a million cases worldwide have been diagnosed.