Despite the coronavirus pandemic, 14 states in the U.S. are now lifting or relaxing their stay-at-home orders to get their economies flowing again. Over 95 million Americans live in places that will soon return to some semblance of normal life, even as new cases and the death toll of COVID-19 continue to rise. The decision to do so rests almost entirely with the governors of each state.
The coronavirus pandemic is still growing in the United States, but many people are eager for the economic impact to lessen. Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and South Carolina are all easing their stay-at-home orders in the coming weeks, or lifting them altogether, according to a report by The Daily Mail. In some places, certain rules have already been set aside. Experts are warning the governors of these states that are will most likely see a rise in deaths due to these measures.
States have varying plans to reopen some businesses and public places while still trying to maintain social distancing. However, experts say it likely will not be enough. In many cases, this "reopening" comes before communities have reached their peak in new cases, and before they even have plentiful and accessible testing capacity for the virus.
Critics of these reopenings are not only worried that people will be drawn outside with a false sense of security — they are worried for the safety of essential workers. On Tuesday, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds warned that if employees refused to return to their jobs even after the stay-at-home order is lifted, it will be treated as a "voluntary quit," and they will not be able to collect severance or unemployment.
"If you're an employer and you offer to bring your employee back to work and they decide not to, that's a voluntary quit," Reynolds said, according to a report by The Intellectualist. "Therefore, they would not be eligible for the unemployment money."
Govs. Kemp and Abbott were at least smart enough to not say this part out loud.— Pé (@4everNeverTrump) April 28, 2020
This has led some on social media to argue that the states that are reopening are doing so to avoid paying unemployment support to millions of Americans — not because it has been proven to be safe. The U.S. has now had over 1 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, and 60,823 deaths. So far, 119,000 Americans have been confirmed to have recovered. For the latest information on the coronavirus pandemic, visit the websites of the CDC and the World Health Organization.