These Eight States Have Yet to Issue a Stay-at-Home Order Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster issued a statewide stay-at-home order today to protect citizens from the coronavirus outbreak. Similar to the orders that most other states have already mandated in the past few weeks, South Carolinians must remain home unless visiting family, exercising or obtaining essential supplies.

As President Donald Trump continues to resist issuing a nationwide order, states have sewed together a patchwork of rules for how citizens should protect themselves and others from being infected. Dr. Anthony Fauci, a key member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, urged all states to issue stay-at-home orders last week, saying on CNN: "I just don't understand why we're not doing that."

Now, just eight U.S. governors have yet to issue statewide stay-at-home directives as the coronavirus outbreak rapidly spreads through the country, infecting hundreds of thousands and killing along the way. These last holdouts are all Republican governors in red states that Trump carried in 2016.

All 50 states have imposed recommendations for social distancing and some restrictions, including bans on large gatherings and the closure of nonessential businesses. But eight governors are still resisting a statewide stay-at-home order. They all have their reasons for not following the measures set in place by their domestic colleagues and global leaders to limit the novel virus' spread.

On Monday afternoon, more than 360,000 individuals had tested positive for COVID-19 in the U.S., with over 10,000 deaths and 18,000 recoveries nationwide, according to a tracker maintained by Johns Hopkins University.

New York
People walk by Wyckoff Heights Hospital wearing face masks on April 5, 2020 in Brooklyn, New York. Pablo Monsalve/Getty

These States Have Yet to Issue a Stay-At-Home Order


Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has continued to resist calls for a statewide stay-at-home order. During a news conference on Friday, he noted Fauci's comments but suggested that the state will not issue such an order unless the CDC makes a recommendation to do so.

"It's understandable that (Fauci) looks at that as a solution, a nationwide shutdown order. What's important is that has not been given," Hutchinson said. "The CDC—I watch their guidelines regularly—and they have not indicated that's an appropriate or necessary step across the country."

According to the tracker, there are more than 870 confirmed cases, with 16 deaths.

Newsweek reached out to Hutchinson's office for comment.


Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has said the COVID-19 data emerging from her state does not warrant a statewide stay-at-home order as the virus has yet to reach some areas.

The state's board of Medicine on Friday voted to restrict the movement of individuals to only essential work, exercise and travel. The vote to order a stay-at-home was unanimous. Iowa Board of Medicine Kent Nebel told the Des Moines Register that isolation is "in the best interest of the public and health care providers."

Reynolds on Friday defended the decision to refrain from a statewide order, saying: "You can't just look at a map and assume no action has been taken." She also dismissed Fauci's remarks and suggested that he didn't "have all the information."

According to the tracker, there are more than 940 confirmed cases, with 25 deaths.

Newsweek reached out to Reynolds' office for comment.


Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts urged residents to stay home but has stood by his decision not to use a nationwide order. Ricketts has promoted social distancing and banned social gatherings of 10 or more people, but has resisted a stay at home order, saying his state has been more proactive than others in their handling of the coronavirus.

A group of local and state officials sent a letter to Ricketts on Friday urging him to issue a statewide stay-at-home order through to the end of April. "The current orders to self-quarantine, if possible, and practice of social distancing are not sufficient," they wrote.

According to the tracker, there are more than 400 confirmed cases, with eight deaths.

Newsweek reached out to Ricketts' office for comment.

North Dakota

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum refused to implement a statewide order but has encouraged citizens to "stay home, stay healthy and stay connected."

Burgum stated his reason for not issuing a stay-at-home order last week during a press briefing. "We're a low population state and a large low population state," he said. "I will use every tool at my disposal as Governor to protect the lives and safety of North Dakotans, but I'm only going to use those tools if it makes sense and when it makes sense."

According to the tracker, there are more than 220 confirmed cases, with three deaths.

Newsweek reached out to Burgum's office for comment.


Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt on Wednesday extended his statewide "safer-at-home" order, which covers "all Oklahomans 65 and older or those who have a compromised immune system." Those who fall under the category are required to remain at home except for grocery runs and essential errands.

Norman and Oklahoma City have issued local stay-at-home orders, but Stitt has not yet imposed a statewide mandate. The state has imposed other measures, including social distancing, bans on large gatherings and closures of nonessential businesses.

According to the tracker, there are more than 1,300 confirmed cases, with 51 deaths.

Newsweek reached out to Stitt's office for comment.

South Dakota

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has resisted the order by invoking the government intrusion argument. Last month, she told reporters that "people themselves are primarily responsible for their safety."

The South Dakota Medical Association on Friday sent Noem a letter urging her to issue a statewide stay-at-home. The association's president, Robert Summerer, said while they understand "the difficult decision you face, including the economic impact," such an order would be "the best long-term strategy for economic recovery."

According to the tracker, there are more than 280 confirmed cases, with 4 deaths.

Newsweek reached out to Noem's office for comment.


Utah Governor Gary Herbert has not implemented a mandate but dozens of counties in the state have issued local stay-at-home orders. Some Salt Lake officials have asked Herbert to issue a statewide order, but he has stuck by his "stay home, stay safe" instructions.

Utah House Democrats have continued to fight for a statewide order. "We know this pandemic will likely kill hundreds or thousands of people in our state. We do not believe that the current voluntary Stay-Safe-Stay-Home program is as effective in slowing the spread of this virus as an explicit stay-at-home order," the state's House Democratic caucus said in a statement on Monday.

According to the tracker, there are more than 1,600 confirmed cases, with 13 deaths.

Newsweek reached out to Herbert's office for comment.


Similar to some states above, Wyoming's medical society has urged their governor, Mark Gordon, to issue a statewide stay-at-home order. In response, Gordon has suggested such a mandate wouldn't garner the expected results and said he's more interested in "changing behaviors."

Senator John Barrasso told Fox News that Wyoming's wide-open spaces and low population density means that citizens do not come as close to each other, compared to other states. "Wyoming doesn't need a formal stay-at-home order in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic because people in Wyoming have been social distancing for 130 years," he said.

In a video posted to Facebook on Sunday, Wyoming first lady Jennie Gordon said, "We're trying to strike the right balance between protecting public health and keeping essential business and services open."

"Because we're a rural state with a spread-out population, we have more time to get prepared," the governor said.

According to the tracker, there are at least 210 confirmed cases, with no deaths.

Newsweek reached out to Gordon's office for comment.

States will be removed from the list if they issue an order after publication.

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