States threaten jail time for refusal to follow ‘stay at home’ orders

As warnings that the coronavirus infections will drastically increase in within the next week intensify, some states are implementing harsher measures in order to ensure public compliance with social distancing guidelines.

In states like Hawaii, Alaska, California, and Michigan, violators of these strict lockdown orders will be at risk for hefty fines and even jail time, according to a new Fox News report. 

States crack down

Though there has been no indication of a federal lockdown order, Donald Trump has left it up to states to choose the intensity of their precautionary measures.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige warned residents that non-compliance with the state’s one-month stay at home order carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

“The threat of COVID-19 is unprecedented and requires aggressive action,” Ige said. “I have been in discussions with our county mayors who are developing their own plans to meet the unique needs of their counties. We also agree that a statewide order is necessary for cohesion and consistency.”

Mississippi is another state that has recently enacted lockdown orders, and the state boasts one of the harshest punishments for non-compliance: Up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine for “knowingly and willfully” violating the order.

California, Michigan, and New Jersey all have enacted similar laws. New York State has issued lockdown orders, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not indicated whether state-wide enforcement will take place.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, however, announced on Monday that police will be enforcing social distancing rules within the city. NYC is considered the epicenter of the US coronavirus outbreak, and as of Monday, there were more than 12,000 confirmed cases and almost 100 deaths.

New epicenter

Officials have warned that the US will see an explosion of COVID-19 cases within the next week, and those warnings are beginning to ring true as the nation enters the second week of strict social distancing in order to “flatten the curve.”

The World Health Organization said on Tuesday that the US may soon become the new coronavirus epicenter due to the “very large acceleration” in infections over the last several days.

Europe, — and especially Italy and Spain — has been considered the epicenter for nearly a week, but according to reports, Italy is finally seeing a stabilization of infection rates, signaling that the nation may have reached its peak.

US infection rates continue to climb, both due to expanded testing abilities and a lack of compliance with social distancing recommendations. As of Monday, per the CDC, there have been 33,404 cases reported in the US and 400 deaths.

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