Despite a steady climb in the national death toll of those who have died from coronavirus-related infections, several states Monday began to ease stay-at-home orders for residents.
Streams of patrons, eager to escape stay-home restrictions that have lasted weeks, entered businesses in small towns and bustling big cities in states from the Rocky Mountains to the South.
In Colorado, retail businesses with curbside delivery were able to reopen. Hospitals also eased restrictions on elective surgeries.
Farther north, in Montana, where residents of large metropolises have fled to during the global pandemic, retail businesses fully reopened but were required to adhere to strict social distancing guidelines.
“We have among the lowest cases per capita, the lowest hospitalizations per capita,” Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, said on social media, urging residents to remain vigilant and still practice social distancing. The state has seen roughly 450 confirmed cases of the virus and at least 14 deaths.
Nationwide, the death toll from COVID-19 reached 55,000 in the United States on Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University. The reported U.S. death toll is the highest globally.
In the South, which has seen high rates of infections, Tennessee allowed restaurants to reopen for dine-in or takeout. Roughly 9,500 people have contracted the virus and at least 190 have died.
Last week, Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, released his “Tennessee Pledge” plan for reopening businesses in the state’s 95 counties, mandating social distancing and sanitizing protocols for restaurants to follow.
In recent days, neighboring Georgia lifted restrictions, allowing for businesses such as barbershops, gyms, movie theaters and bowling alleys to reopen. The state continues to see an increase in confirmed cases, at least 22,400, and about 900 deaths.
President Donald Trump, after urging states to “liberate” during the pandemic has said he does not support Republican Gov. Brian Kemp’s decision to reopen.
Meanwhile, in New York, where a day earlier Gov. Andrew Cuomo outlined a phased approach to reopening the state, which has a stay-at-home order in place until May 15, hospitals reported less of a strain on emergency rooms.
“This has been a hellish experience for our country. But it has also been a time of cooperation, unity and love,” Cuomo said Monday. “It’s not red state versus blue state. It’s us together versus this virus.”