What is Shelter-in-Place? How does it affect me?
To most, ‘shelter in place’ means just that—stay at home, but grey areas arise when exceptions are made and rules change by the minute. Veuer’s Chandra Lanier has the story.
COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, is dominating all news outlets around the entire world.
With a high transmittal rate and often deadly outcomes for those 65 years or older, the coronavirus has been labeled a world pandemic and several countries are starting to take measures that may be perceived as drastic, but necessary for the continued health and survival of their citizens.
The United States is no exception. Several counties around the country have issued a “shelter-in-place” within the last 48 hours. Some have greatly encouraged greater measures than social distancing.
While a shelter-in-place has not been officially mandated in your city, the principles of it have been encouraged, such as social distancing and practicing a self-administered sequester.
Social distancing, while a good start, may not be enough as time progresses.
So what does it mean for you if a shelter-in-place is called for in your city?
A flier urging customers to remain home. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
“Shelter-in-Place” Meaning & Application
Some take the term too literally. When a shelter-in-place is called, citizens do not have to stay exactly where they are. A shelter-in-place is not a lock-down. As such, if you are at work, you will not be quarantined to your office. You will be allowed to return home, but that is where you are to stay.
A shelter-in-place means that residents are required to stay inside their homes with the exception of reaching essential services.
Essential services are just that; essential. Grocery shopping, picking up medication, or going to the doctor’s office or vet are examples of essential services.
Government mandated jobs that provide essential services, like police, fire, and medical departments, will also continue to function as they provide services that can not be done within households alone.
Grocery stores will remain open, but each grocery store may have their own rules, such as shortened hours or a smaller staff in-store at any given time. Restaurants may continue to operate, but only for takeout or delivery.
Already, colleges have shut down campuses and switched to online courses, often with the result of students being sent home to practice social distancing from fellow classmates, professors, and other campus personnel.
Recently, President Donald Trump stated that gatherings should be limited to no more than 10 people. Obviously, there are some exceptions, like a hospital or a grocery store, but these gatherings should be extremely limited to essential gatherings only, and public transit may not make the cut.
A cyclist rides his bicycle down the middle of a main road. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
Any sort of transportation, walking, biking, or driving will be prohibited except for essential services. Public transportation may all together be shut down to avoid large gatherings of people.
If you leave your shelter for a non-essential reason, you could be arrested and suffer the consequences.
As with many cities, the question being asked is “what about the homeless?” They do not have a shelter and they are exposed to the elements. Many exceed 65 years in age, making them especially susceptible to the coronavirus.
The homeless will be encouraged to seek shelter in homeless accommodations and governments, on the county and state level, will be pushed to find shelter for them, especially for those 65 years and older.
Basically, a shelter-in-place is a mandatory quarantine and the implications are massive.
Perhaps one of the biggest questions on everyone's mind is “what about my bills?”
There are some jobs that do allow employees to work from home, but not everyone has that luxury.
People still need to pay bills, mortgages, and rent, and the “shelter-in-place” scenario seems to inhibit one's ability to work except in instances of those essential services.
There are far more questions than there are answers currently, but public and government institutions are working double time all to help more people rather than hurt.
As of this moment, six California counties have issued a shelter-in-place and New York’s Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City told NYC residents that they should be prepared in case a shelter-in-place is mandated.
The hope is to limit the cases and casualties, but those who now find themselves temporarily unemployed are hurting and hurting bad.
Currently, this is the problem California is trying to tackle. The state is encouraging residents to apply for financial aid and unemployment/disability insurance. This isn’t a permanent solution and it is certainly part of the discussion in the mayor’s office in New York and possibly your home state as well.
Being sequestered in one's home is never ideal, especially for three weeks, which is the mandate in the California counties, but the hope is to decrease the spread of the coronavirus to save lives.
Stay tuned with your local new stations for updates on your community, as well as the country and world as a whole.
To stop COVID-19 from growing at a peaked exponential rate, a shelter-in-place may be the best way to do that.
For now, continue to keep your social distance, wash your hands, and take your vitamins.