(Bloomberg) — Turned out of bouncy castles and houses of worship, blocked from working and shopping and dining, homebound Americans are starting to crack under orders that health experts insist are keeping them safe from the new coronavirus.
In Kentucky, Governor Andy Beshear’s demand that travelers self-isolate has led to a challenge from the state’s own attorney general. In Illinois, Representative Darren Bailey won a court order exempting him — and him alone — from the state’s distancing regulations, a ruling that Governor J.B. Pritzker called “a dangerous precedent.” Newark, New Jersey, police have issued 1,500 summonses to people defying executive orders on gathering.
Whether through ignorance, impatience, or live-free-or-die defiance, some Americans are choosing this particular moment to do whatever it is they ordinarily do. Others, rule-followers confined for weeks on end, are letting their guards and their masks down and forging a new relationship with risk.
“We have not beaten this disease yet, and we’re going to take a tough line and hold the line until we do — this is the only way to come back safely,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday. The city was deploying 1,000 workers, including police and firefighters, to issue summonses carrying fines and to arrest flagrant social-distancing violators, he said.
The U.S., with more than 1 million coronavirus cases and 61,000 deaths, is the global hot spot. Absent a virus vaccine or antidote, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorses social distancing to slow the outbreak. But a nation conceived in a face-slap to the British monarchy and cultivated on frontiers lousy with bears has a problem with mandated queues for a shot at rationed toilet paper and increasingly scarce meat.
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