Over the last few weeks and months, Californians have seen a drastic change in their lifestyle, just like millions of others across the world. The pandemic caused by the COVID-19 Virus, more commonly referred to as the Coronavirus, has forced closures of businesses all over the state, and the world at large.
As the scale of this pandemic became known, officials began encouraging social distancing as a way of combating the spread of the disease. The simple act of avoiding social events and keeping 6 feet away from people at all times drastically lowers the chances of the virus spreading. As more cases began popping up, local governments were forced into action. Recently, Governor Gavin Newsom issued a shelter in place order as some people began to push the boundaries of their so-called social distancing.
What Does the Shelter in Place Order Mean?
The shelter in place order issued by Governor Newsom means exactly what it sounds like. This order makes it so that people can only leave their homes for essential errands, such as getting the mail, getting groceries, getting gas, providing aid to friends and family members, or going to work at jobs that are considered essential.
While people are out running errands and working, they are expected to practice social distancing. This means they should stay a minimum of 6 feet away from other people at all times.
A lot of times, one might here officials talking about flattening the curve of the virus’s spread, but what does that mean? To put it simply, they want to reduce how often the virus is spread. Consider someone who is sick, if that person goes out and interacts with just two people, they become sick too. Then those two people go out and interact with 2 more people each and now 6 people are infected. If each person keeps interacting with others, they keeping infecting more and more people at a faster and faster rate. When charted on a graph, the line would start with a shallow slope and then rapidly curve up until it was almost vertical.
Social distancing and sheltering in place reduces human interactions and thereby reduces the chances for the virus to spread. This slows how quickly that line on the graph curves upwards.
If enough people practice social distancing and shelter in place, the bulk of the spread could be delayed until a cure or treatment is found.
What Happens if Someone Doesn’t Follow the Order?
Some people were a bit confused when Governor Newsome issued the recent shelter in place order since many people were doing that already. The thing is, before the order was issued, sheltering in place and avoiding people was just a recommendation. Now it is an official order. This means that if someone doesn’t heed the order, they could get into trouble.
Law enforcement agencies across the state have been instructed to ensure people comply with this order. This means that a person could be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor for failing to heed the order. This is because not listening to this order is considered an imminent threat to public health.
That is something that everyone should be aware of. However, the chances of actually getting arrested for venturing outside are slim. More than likely, people who don’t heed the order will be told to go home.
Could Martial Law Be Issued?
After hearing that the National Guard would be deployed to help deal with the virus, many people began to worry that martial law would be issued, however, that is not the case. Martial law, the act of suspending civil laws and putting a military force in charge of a jurisdiction, is something that is very rarely used here in the US. The last time it was used was in Hawaii after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Yes, martial law could be used to enforce the shelter in place order that has been issued, however, that would only happen as a last resort. As long as people continue to shelter in place like they are supposed to and follow any other orders issued by the government, there won’t be a need for martial law.
Just Stay Home and Don’t Panic
This pandemic is a natural disaster on a scale that many people have not seen in a long time. It is shocking and scary. People’s lives have been disrupted in ways many had thought impossible. However, this is not the time to panic. If enough people can remain calm and follow the advice of health officials to shelter in place, the virus’s spread could be slowed drastically.
As many people have already pointed out online, this is probably the only time where people can save lives by staying at home, so don’t mess this up.
The best thing to do is to listen to government officials and only accept information about the virus from reputable sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).