As coronavirus cases continue to climb in the U.S., two governors on opposite sides of the country took a similar step on Monday: reducing the number of people allowed at social gatherings, among other restrictions.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced that indoor social get-togethers of more than 10 people will be prohibited starting Wednesday.
Gatherings of up to 25 people were allowed in Phase One of the state’s reopening plan, and indoor limits increased to 50 for counties that reached Phase Two.
Brown also extended the statewide face covering requirement, which took effect earlier this month, to outdoor public spaces where six feet of distance cannot be maintained.
Oregon recorded 332 new cases on Sunday, bringing its cumulative total to 12,170. Brown said on Monday the state reported more cases in the past week than the entire month of May.
“Today we are sounding the alarm because we are at risk of letting the virus spiral out of control,” she said. “The question now is whether Oregon will be the next New York or the next Texas.”
In West Virginia, Gov. Jim Justice imposed several new statewide restrictions, including reducing the social gathering limit from 100 to 25 people, effective Tuesday. The same executive order also closes all fairs, festivals and similar events, and prohibits both indoor and outdoor concerts.
Justice also ordered all bars closed for ten days in Monongalia County, which has seen a significant uptick in infections and had 340 active cases as of Monday.
“We want everyone to know this is not playtime stuff,” Justice told viewers at a daily briefing. “We now, in West Virginia, have 1,338 active cases. We have grown 206 active cases since I saw you the last time on Friday.”
Governors in both states stressed that the new limits apply only to social gatherings.
Justice said the new order does not cover any activity, business or entity designated as essential, such as religious services or group conferences. Attendees of such events must practice social distancing based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations, he said.
And Brown said Oregon’s new rule would not change the operation of businesses or churches “at this time.” She added failure to comply will lead to more outbreaks, as well as more restrictive closures.
“We need to do absolutely everything we can to reduce transmission in ways that do not require us to close down businesses again,” Brown said. “The proof here will be in the numbers. Either people will adhere to this requirement and be a positive force for stopping COVID-19, or I will be forced to take more restrictive measures.”
Governors across the country are reimposing certain restrictions to combat the spread of the virus, though few have officially rolled back limits on social gatherings.
Many of the latest measures have been aimed at bars and other indoor establishments.
On Monday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the statewide closure of all bars and indoor operations of several types of businesses. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott closed bars and tightened business restrictions in June, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also previously ordered bars to close. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster imposed an 11 p.m. curfew on bars and restaurants last week.