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As states navigate reopening, Texas rethinks punishment for violations

Texas Governor Greg Abbott will no longer allow violators of statewide COVID-19 restrictions to be jailed as a punishment (https://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/governor-softens-order-jailed-texas-hair-salon-owner-70555611?cid=clicksource_4380645_4_three_posts_card_related). This comes after a Dallas salon owner was recently jailed for refusing to keep her business closed. Governor Abbott will open salons on Friday and gyms will reopen on May 18.


While a step in the right direction, this is nowhere near the first case of arrest during shutdown. In March four men were arrested in North Carolina for protesting outside the A Woman's Choice clinic despite following social distancing guidelines. In mid-April Maryland police had arrested at least 34 people for various violations of stay-at-home orders. In late April a woman in Idaho was arrested for bringing her children to a closed playground. Recently three protestors were arrested on the beach for violating Gov. Newsom's recent closures.


Some political leaders have taken their orders more seriously than is warranted. For example, in April New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio opened up a hotline for citizens to report violators. This was met with significant backlash as many used the service to troll the mayor, sending memes and lewd pictures. Many governors have seen protesting increase as their states have been slower to reopen. While Michiganders have protested against the strict measures of Gov. Whitmer several times over the past month, Oregonians recently took to the streets of Salem, urging their governor to reopen.


Will states like Texas set the standard for the nation, or will the hardest hit states (New York, California, Michigan, etc.) continue to keep their people at home regardless of their wishes? Should governors limit shutdowns to regions most affected while opening other parts of the state? Most of Northern Michigan remains on lockdown while a large majority of cases are focused in the Southeastern portion of the state. Will President Trump use federal pressure on these states or will he allow these governors to continue to take flack, preserving state sovereignty, even if it harms their citizens?

Image Credit: Dallas County Sheriff's Office via AP

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