Few Areas in the US Prepare to Reopen Businesses Amid Novel Coronavirus Outbreak
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Bars and restaurants remain shuttered, and taking out is still the only option until 4 May, when the restricted opening is likely. Few areas in the US are starting to lift restrictions, and rural states such as Montana, Vermont and Alaska have become some of the first to do so. The pandemic effects in small towns can seem like a world away from cities struggling with overloaded hospitals, crowded morgues and driven to the brink of economies.
For some time now, the effects of lifting restrictions in rural areas will not be completely understood and health officials said they will be watching for infections to resurge. But for now, there is little doubt in areas like Roundup and after weeks-long stay-at-home orders, it was the right thing to do.
The coronavirus is primarily a distant threat that has directly affected only a few people here so far. Face masks are a novelty, and a handshake often still carries greetings. Given some griping that the lockdown was too harsh, most citizens cooperated, said Adam Carlson, a county commissioner.
By comparison, local officials have vowed resistance in some rural areas of states where stay-at-home directives are still in force. Grants’ mayor, New Mexico, 9,000 inhabitants, led a Monday rally where thousands of non-essential companies were urged to reopen. COVID-19 has affected only a fraction of the people in the state, and holding small businesses closed makes absolutely no sense, said Mayor Martin “Modey” Hicks. New Mexico has reported more than 2,800 cases of the virus, with 104 deaths.
The coronavirus causes mild to moderate symptoms for most, such as fever and cough. This may cause more serious illness for others, particularly older people and those with established health conditions, including pneumonia and death. Six rural counties with a combined 500,000 residents in California asked Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday if they could initiate a “careful and staggered reopening,” even as counties in the San Francisco Bay Area went on to extend their home-stay orders through May.
Alaska City Welcomes Customers
Some restaurants restored dine-in operation in small towns in Alaska Friday. While stores, personal care facilities and other non-essential businesses reopened with restrictions. Rules still restrict how many people may be in a shop at once. Also, there is no allowable waiting in salons. Humans can shop at outdoor stores in Vermont, and five people can work at the same outdoor worksite. Fabrication and interior design can also extend.
Mike MacLeod operates a garden centre only south of Stowe’s resort area. He said the phone started ringing within minutes of the Governor’s announcement that the restrictions were loosened Friday.
Being isolated and sparsely populated helps towns prevent diseases, said Montana Medical Association president Dr Marc Mentel. Nevertheless, a rural ZIP code is not a golden shield and has its own disadvantage: less medical services. That can make it hard to contain outbreaks, such as the infections that have swept through an assisted living centre. It is in another small town in Montana, Shelby, in recent weeks, resulting in six deaths.
Gov. Steve Bullock credits an early shutdown with pushing down the rate of infection. It is for Montana and helping to reopen it before other states.
Montana has one of the lowest death rates per capita from the virus in the country. Since peaking at 124 cases a week in late March and early April the rate of reported infections has decreased. Last week, health officials said there were 15 new cases. But not every company should throw its doors open. The Lasso the Moon toy store opens in Helena’s capital of Montana but its doors put off the close tag. As long as they wear masks, customers can knock to enter. It is up to four at a time. Owner Amy Barrett states that the door closes so staff get time to donate masks. Her warmth represented the confusion that many small business owners permitted reopening.
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