States that have been locked down the longest

Written by:
June 9, 2020
ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images

States that have been locked down the longest

State responses to COVID-19 varied wildly, leaving many residents understandably confused. But which states stayed closed the longest, and what effect has that had? Some states have low populations with less of a contrast between small cities and rural residents, and others, like New York, have made very different rules for very different environments. Stacker used information provided by The New York Times (as of May 29) and state websites to compile a list of states with the longest COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. The earliest orders came in March, and while there are some overall trends among governors from the same political party, there are also plenty of surprises. One of the most contentious has been Wisconsin, where the governor’s order was rescinded by the state Supreme Court.

While most states are reopening in phases to prevent a resurgence of cases, 42 of the 50 states plus Washington D.C. issued an official stay-at-home order in response to the pandemic, with a majority of these orders expiring in April and May. The states listed below are ranked according to how long their statewide stay-at-home order was in effect. Eight states (Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming) did not issue statewide stay-at-home orders, so they were not ranked. Additionally, while most stay-at-home orders have either expired or are about to expire, each state has its own criteria for opening up businesses and other establishments, and could keep businesses closed well into the summer if necessary for the prevention of an increased COVID-19 spread.

Virtually all the reopened states still encourage residents to be careful and hygienic, with social distancing and masks urged almost across the board. The reopenings show the different regional priorities of certain places, from pickleball to rodeos to the spring wild turkey hunting season. Large cities like New York and Seattle will likely be the last to fully reopen, but residents can already go to more places outside, visit more stores, and travel more freely than before.

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photo.ua // Shutterstock

#44. States without statewide stay-at-home orders

Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming did not issue official statewide stay-at-home orders. Several counties and cities in these states issued their own orders, and many nonessential businesses still closed down.

In Utah, for example, the governor urged residents to stay home but did not order it by law. Salt Lake City’s newly elected mayor chose to turn the governor’s suggestion into city law because of the higher rates of COVID-19. The states with statewide orders have tiered levels of legality and enforcement as well, and no state has acted as a monolith.

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SNEHIT // Shutterstock

#43. Mississippi

- Length of official stay-at-home order: 24 days
--- Date order started: April 3, 2020
--- Date order expired: April 27, 2020
- 2019 state population: 2,976,149

Gov. Tate Reeves began reopening the state after just a few weeks of shelter in place. The state’s rates continued to increase during that time. As of June 4, there are 12 positive test results per 100,000 residents. All businesses were allowed to reopen June 1.

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Kevin Ruck // Shutterstock

#42. Alabama

- Length of official stay-at-home order: 26 days
--- Date order started: April 4, 2020
--- Date order expired: April 30, 2020
- 2019 state population: 4,903,185

By May 22, Alabama had reopened everything. Gov. Kay Ivey eased back to a suggestion to stay-at-home on April 30, when nonessential retail reopened. After that, gyms and salons followed on May 11.

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Sean Pavone // Shutterstock

#41. South Carolina

- Length of official stay-at-home order: 27 days
--- Date order started: April 7, 2020
--- Date order expired: May 4, 2020
- 2019 state population: 5,148,714

Gov. Henry McMaster was among the final to issue stay-at-home orders to close, on April 7, and one of the first to open less than a month later. After a month with reopened stores and other businesses, cases are on the rise, with 361 new cases on June 4. Stores have been told to lower capacity and limit customers, but restaurants don’t need to report employees who are diagnosed with COVID-19.

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Michael Thomas // Getty Images

#40. Missouri

- Length of official stay-at-home order: 27 days
--- Date order started: April 6, 2020
--- Date order expired: May 3, 2020
- 2019 state population: 6,137,428

Gov. Mike Parson allowed all businesses to reopen on May 3 as long as they agreed to comply with social distancing. Since then, the state’s rate of new COVID-19 cases has stayed steady and even begun to rise again. The state’s recommendations still include avoiding travel, crowded situations like trade shows, and gathering too closely outdoors.

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#39. Georgia

- Length of official stay-at-home order: 27 days
--- Date order started: April 3, 2020
--- Date order expired: April 30, 2020
- 2019 state population: 10,617,423

Georgia was one of the first states to reopen, making news around the country for Gov. Brian Kemp’s insistence contrasted with the high-profile opposition of Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. Even restaurant dining rooms reopened, with restrictions, at the end of April.

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Rocky Grimes // Shutterstock

#38. Alaska

- Length of official stay-at-home order: 27 days
--- Date order started: March 28, 2020
--- Date order expired: April 24, 2020
- 2019 state population: 731,545

Gov. Mike Dunleavy started to reopen the state on April 24. But Alaska’s low population and gigantic area mean that the social climate is unique among the United States, and its business restrictions weren’t fully relaxed until nearly a month later on May 22.

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Omar Vega // Getty Images

#37. Texas

- Length of official stay-at-home order: 28 days
--- Date order started: April 2, 2020
--- Date order expired: April 30, 2020
- 2019 state population: 28,995,881

Texas didn’t close until April 2 and reopened less than a month later, and the populous state’s rates of COVID-19 continue to increase. Some of Texas’ more unusual reopenings include caves, rodeos, and bingo halls.

[Pictured: Guitarist James Young of Eli Young Band performs at the Global Life Field parking lot on June 4, 2020, in Arlington.]

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Jon Bilous // Shutterstock

#36. Montana

- Length of official stay-at-home order: 29 days
--- Date order started: March 28, 2020
--- Date order expired: April 26, 2020
- 2019 state population: 1,068,778

Montana has had very few confirmed cases of COVID-19, and the state began to reopen after its curve effectively flattened in April. The number of new cases stayed at almost zero until just this week. Everything from gyms and massage parlors to bowling alleys and concert venues are reopened now.

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Sean Pavone // Shutterstock

#35. Tennessee

- Length of official stay-at-home order: 30 days
--- Date order started: March 31, 2020
--- Date order expired: April 30, 2020
- 2019 state population: 6,829,174

Tennessee was closed for just 30 days by Gov. Bill Lee, and restaurants and gyms both reopened by May 1. Since then, Tennessee’s number of new cases has continued to slowly rise, and positive tests per 100,000 residents are up to 8.4 as of June 4. Amusement parks and movie theaters are also open.

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Gerardo Mora // Getty Images

#34. Florida

- Length of official stay-at-home order: 31 days
--- Date order started: April 3, 2020
--- Date order expired: May 4, 2020
- 2019 state population: 21,477,737

Gov. Ron DeSantis began reopening in early May, but parts of Florida had opened beaches during April. Photos of the reopened beaches spread so fast and with such heated commentary that Snopes had to debunk claims that the photos were faked. The remaining few closed categories, like tattoo parlors and massage, will reopen soon.

[Pictured: Universal Studio cast members perform during the first day of reopening at Universal Orlando Resort on June 5, 2020.]

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Roschetzky Photography // Shutterstock

#33. Colorado

- Length of official stay-at-home order: 31 days
--- Date order started: March 26, 2020
--- Date order expired: April 26, 2020
- 2019 state population: 5,758,736

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has reopened businesses like salons, restaurants, and retail stores, but the state is still in “safer at home” mode. The official advice still includes wearing a mask whenever you leave your home.

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NicholasGeraldinePhotos // Shutterstock

#32. Kansas

- Length of official stay-at-home order: 34 days
--- Date order started: March 30, 2020
--- Date order expired: May 3, 2020
- 2019 state population: 2,913,314

Gov. Laura Kelly faced political pressure to reopen more of the state faster, and even tattoo parlors have reopened by now. A high-profile series of NASCAR races are planned for July, but for now without spectators. Kansas has just recently fallen into the “low” zone for positive tests per capita, with 4.8 out of every 100,000.

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Don & Melinda Crawford/Education Images/Universal Images Group // Getty Image

#31. Idaho

- Length of official stay-at-home order: 36 days
--- Date order started: March 25, 2020
--- Date order expired: April 30, 2020
- 2019 state population: 1,787,065

Gov. Brad Little reopened much of the state beginning on April 30, and the state’s COVID-19 rates have stayed stable and low despite a surprising early hotspot in Sun Valley. Now, the state has fewer than three positive tests per 100,000 state residents and is among the lowest rates in the nation.

[Pictured: City park playground closure in Moscow, Idaho.]

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Ethan Miller // Getty Images

#30. Nevada

- Length of official stay-at-home order: 38 days
--- Date order started: April 1, 2020
--- Date order expired: May 9, 2020
- 2019 state population: 3,080,156

Gov. Steve Sisolak encouraged residents to stay home even after the order expired on May 9. Almost everything is reopened to some extent now, including the reopening of the Las Vegas Strip this week. Vegas has a lot of pickleball, a sport that combines ideas from tennis and ping pong into one middle-size court; pickleball has reopened.

[Pictured: Wayne Rogers of Texas at the Bellagio Resort & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip on June 4, 2020.]

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Kristi Blokhin // Shutterstock

#29. West Virginia

- Length of official stay-at-home order: 40 days
--- Date order started: March 24, 2020
--- Date order expired: May 3, 2020
- 2019 state population: 1,792,147

Gov. Jim Justice shut the state down on March 24, so the shelter-in-place lasted well over a month before being lifted May 3. Almost everything is open now, with casinos to follow soon. Some unusual places include tanning salons and roller rinks. West Virginia’s number of cases per capita has always been low, and the state’s small population is spread around pretty evenly, without any cities with over 100,000 residents.

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ESB Professional // Shutterstock

#28. Rhode Island

- Length of official stay-at-home order: 41 days
--- Date order started: March 28, 2020
--- Date order expired: May 8, 2020
- 2019 state population: 1,059,361

Gov. Gina Raimondo began lifting restrictions in early May, but in the first week of June, salons and gyms reopened around the state’s five counties. Although the state is the smallest in the country, it’s had a high rate of COVID-19 cases, peaking at 400 new cases per day. Now, the rate of positive tests per 100,000 residents has fallen from about 22 to just 13—still high, but much better.

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Travis Eckert // Shutterstock

#27. Indiana

- Length of official stay-at-home order: 41 days
--- Date order started: March 24, 2020
--- Date order expired: May 4, 2020
- 2019 state population: 6,732,219

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb has reopened almost everything, including libraries and movie theaters. The state still has a medium rate of positive tests (5–10 per 100,000 state residents), but all its markers, including the rate, are declining. Unfortunately, that’s from a high peak and still represents a lot of cases.

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Charles T. Peden // Shutterstock

#26. Arizona

- Length of official stay-at-home order: 45 days
--- Date order started: March 31, 2020
--- Date order expired: May 15, 2020
- 2019 state population: 7,278,717

Arizona didn’t begin to reopen until May 15, but now almost everything is back online. But in the first week of June, Arizona had its first day with over 1,000 new cases of COVID-19. The Navajo Nation alone has the second highest rate of confirmed cases per capita in the nation.

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#25. Maryland

- Length of official stay-at-home order: 46 days
--- Date order started: March 30, 2020
--- Date order expired: May 15, 2020
- 2019 state population: 6,045,680

Maryland began reopening in mid-May, but Baltimore’s mayor and some other parts of the state elected to wait longer with the governor’s blessing. Maryland is one of the most densely populated states, where urban areas combine with rural and coastal areas with different needs. Many things, including all outdoor recreation, are open now.

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MarynaG // Shutterstock

#24. Wisconsin

- Length of official stay-at-home order: 49 days
--- Date order started: March 25, 2020
--- Date order expired: May 13, 2020
- 2019 state population: 5,822,434

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers went to the state Supreme Court over his stay-at-home order, which was struck down on May 13. Restaurants and other businesses around the state could open immediately, and some did just that. The state’s rate of new COVID-19 cases has continued to rise, and the number of positive tests per 100,000 residents is up to 8.3 as of June 4.

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Nadia Yong // Shutterstock

#23. Washington

- Length of official stay-at-home order: 49 days
--- Date order started: March 23, 2020
--- Date order expired: May 11, 2020
- 2019 state population: 7,614,893

The Seattle area was an early hotspot for COVID-19 cases, and the state shut down ahead of many others. Giant anchor employers like Microsoft have extended their work-from-home orders for thousands of employees. Elsewhere in the state, restaurants and services continue to phase back in.

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#22. Minnesota

- Length of official stay-at-home order: 51 days
--- Date order started: March 27, 2020
--- Date order expired: May 17, 2020
- 2019 state population: 5,639,632

Minnesota began reopening for agricultural workers in mid-May, with half-capacity retail shortly after. But Minnesota’s number of confirmed cases was low until the end of April, and the spike that began then is finally shrinking now. Restaurants are expected to open in some capacity in June.

[Pictured: Excavated mill ruins on display in Mill Ruins Park in Minneapolis.]

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Salvan // Shutterstock

#21. Vermont

- Length of official stay-at-home order: 51 days
--- Date order started: March 25, 2020
--- Date order expired: May 15, 2020
- 2019 state population: 623,989

Vermont enforced a pretty long shelter in place, and the state’s number of new cases has stayed consistently low since April. On June 4, the state logged their most new cases since early April, adding 36 and crossing 1,000 total cases. Many businesses are open, but salons and restaurant dining rooms remain closed.

[Pictured: View of Lake Champlain and Adirondacks from Mt. Philo in Charlotte, Vermont.]

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digidreamgrafix // Shutterstock

#20. North Carolina

- Length of official stay-at-home order: 53 days
--- Date order started: March 30, 2020
--- Date order expired: May 22, 2020
- 2019 state population: 10,488,084

Gov. Roy Cooper released a comprehensive reopening plan in mid-April, and by June, restaurants, pools, salons, and retail businesses have all reopened. North Carolina’s number of new cases has increased steadily during the entire U.S. pandemic, with almost 1,000 new cases each day in the first week of June and 7% of tests coming back positive.

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Cynthia Liang // Shutterstock

#19. Oregon

- Length of official stay-at-home order: 53 days
--- Date order started: March 23, 2020
--- Date order expired: May 15, 2020
- 2019 state population: 4,217,737

Oregon has kept cities closed while allowing the rest of the state to gradually reopen, so the date listed here is when businesses began to reopen. Outside of more populous areas, residents can go to restaurants, salons, gyms, and more, with bowling alleys and movie theaters coming soon.

[Pictured: The New Bridge near downtown Salem by the Willamette River waterfront, a favorite spot for locals.]

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TFoxFoto // Shutterstock

#18. Louisiana

- Length of official stay-at-home order: 53 days
--- Date order started: March 23, 2020
--- Date order expired: May 15, 2020
- 2019 state population: 4,648,794

Louisiana reopened many businesses at strict 25% capacity beginning on May 15. The state experienced a huge jump in COVID-19 cases after a city public health official decided Mardi Gras was safe to go ahead with—but the huge spike was flattened pretty quickly, and the state is at about 10 positive tests per 100,000 state residents now.

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Michael Tullberg // Getty Images

#17. California

- Length of official stay-at-home order: 54 days
--- Date order started: March 19, 2020
--- Date order expired: May 12, 2020
- 2019 state population: 39,512,223

California led the nation with the earliest shelter-in-place order, and the overall order remains in place on the state level. Because the state is huge in area and population both, Gov. Gavin Newsom has chosen to reopen based on county qualifications, so restaurants and retail are open in counties with lower rates—that’s the date we’ve used here. In the state overall, rates of positive COVID-19 tests continue to rise.

[Pictured: People at Venice Beach on June 6, 2020.]

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Thomas Kelley // Shutterstock

#16. Kentucky

- Length of official stay-at-home order: 55 days
--- Date order started: March 26, 2020
--- Date order expired: May 20, 2020
- 2019 state population: 4,467,673

Gov. Andy Beshear held off on reopening until May 20 for retail and May 25 for salons and barbershops. Without an official end to the stay-at-home order, that’s the date we’ve used. Now, most things are reopened, from tattoo parlors to swimming pools. Kentucky’s per-capita rate has increased since then, though, to a rate of 6.1 (and climbing) positive tests per 100,000 state residents as of June 4.

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Blake Nissen for The Boston Globe // Getty Images

#15. Massachusetts

- Length of official stay-at-home order: 55 days
--- Date order started: March 24, 2020
--- Date order expired: May 18, 2020
- 2019 state population: 6,892,503

Much of Massachusetts has reopened, including religious facilities beginning on May 18. After that, Gov. Charlie Baker planned a phased reopening for office workplaces, salons, and retail stores. But Massachusetts has a rate of 17 positive tests per 100,000 state residents, and the percentage of positive test results is increasing.

[Pictured: Aimee Doherty and Don Most, front, and Jennifer and Kevin Mischley, back, at a new pop-up drive-in movie presented by Showcase Cinemas de Lux in partnership with Patriot Place in Foxborough, on May 30, 2020.]

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Cvandyke // Shutterstock

#14. District of Columbia

- Length of official stay-at-home order: 58 days
--- Date order started: April 1, 2020
--- Date order expired: May 29, 2020
- 2019 state population: 705,749

Washington D.C. planned to reopen in June but moved the date forward to May 29. But most of the city’s reopened businesses have strict conditions, like only outdoor seating at restaurants and strictly curbside takeaway from the library.

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Sean Pavone // Shutterstock

#13. Connecticut

- Length of official stay-at-home order: 58 days
--- Date order started: March 23, 2020
--- Date order expired: May 20, 2020
- 2019 state population: 3,565,287

Connecticut has reopened everything from restaurants and offices to zoos and the state’s beaches. Even so, Connecticut’s rates of COVID-19 infection are on a gradual but steady decline. Restaurants are limited to outdoor seating for now.

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Sean Pavone // Shutterstock

#12. Maine

- Length of official stay-at-home order: 59 days
--- Date order started: April 2, 2020
--- Date order expired: May 31, 2020
- 2019 state population: 1,344,212

Maine Gov. Janet Mills used a rural-first approach to reopening, which makes sense for a state with both a low population and low density. One unusual special opening is for hunting, like Maine’s spring wild turkey season that begins every May. Other outdoor activities like boating and certain campgrounds have also reopened.

[Pictured: Augusta skyline on the river.]

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Mark Dozier // Shutterstock

#11. Pennsylvania

- Length of official stay-at-home order: 64 days
--- Date order started: April 1, 2020
--- Date order expired: June 4, 2020
- 2019 state population: 12,801,989

Pennsylvania had one of the longest closures, with over two months of lockdown before Gov. Tom Wolf began reopening certain counties. The number of new cases per day has steadily decreased since early April, and rates of positive tests per 100,000 residents continue to decrease as well.

[Pictured: The Roberto Clemente Bridge in Pittsburgh.]

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Jon Bilous // Shutterstock

#10. New Hampshire

- Length of official stay-at-home order: 65 days
--- Date order started: March 27, 2020
--- Date order expired: May 31, 2020
- 2019 state population: 1,359,711

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu extended the state’s stay-at-home order to June 15, but businesses have started to reopen, including salons as early as May 11. New Hampshire has a low population but pretty high density, and the percentage of positive tests is increasing as of June 4.

[Pictured: The Winnipesaukee River in Laconia.]

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Pierre Leclerc // Shutterstock

#9. Hawaii

- Length of official stay-at-home order: 67 days
--- Date order started: March 25, 2020
--- Date order expired: May 31, 2020
- 2019 state population: 1,415,872

Hawaii Gov. David Ige introduced phased reopening beginning in mid-May, but Hawaii’s isolation combined with travel restrictions added up to a very low rate of COVID-19 infection by even early May. Much of what has reopened involves Hawaii’s extensive outdoor activities, like parks, campgrounds, and beaches. 

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photo.ua // Shutterstock

#8. Ohio

- Length of official stay-at-home order: 67 days
--- Date order started: March 23, 2020
--- Date order expired: May 29, 2020
- 2019 state population: 11,689,100

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine adhered to and extended the state’s long stay-at-home order to almost the end of May, and now many workplaces and outdoor activities are reopened. So are dine-in restaurants, which reopened May 21 with restrictions like a mandatory 6 feet or a physical barrier between guest parties.

[Pictured: Cincinnati in the evening.]

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Rhododendrites // Wikimedia Commons

#7. New York

- Length of official stay-at-home order: 67 days
--- Date order started: March 22, 2020
--- Date order expired: May 28, 2020
- 2019 state population: 19,453,561

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was among the first to lock down his state, and Upstate was reopened in late May. New York City, which has the highest density of COVID-19 cases in the nation, is still locked down after peaking at more than 10,000 new cases per day. Now, cases are down for the state overall, and many parts of Upstate are largely reopened.

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turtix // Shutterstock

#6. New Mexico

- Length of official stay-at-home order: 68 days
--- Date order started: March 24, 2020
--- Date order expired: May 31, 2020
- 2019 state population: 2,096,829

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has rolled out limited reopening, like low-capacity retail and religious centers beginning in mid-May. She extended the order for the counties hit hardest by COVID-19, but overall, New Mexico is a huge, low-density state. Even so, the percentage of positive tests is increasing as of June 4.

[Pictured: View of Downtown Albuquerque skyline.]

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Al Jurina // Shutterstock

#5. Delaware

- Length of official stay-at-home order: 68 days
--- Date order started: March 24, 2020
--- Date order expired: May 31, 2020
- 2019 state population: 973,764

Delaware Gov. John Carney began a rolling reopening in May, with near-weekly phases lasting until the stay-at-home order ended May 31. Beaches and pools are open as well as restaurants, concerts, and more. Massage, tattoo parlors, and nail salons will be the last to reopen.

[Pictured: Bethany Beach in Delaware.]

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Joel Lerner/Xinhua // Getty Images

#4. Illinois

- Length of official stay-at-home order: 69 days
--- Date order started: March 21, 2020
--- Date order expired: May 29, 2020
- 2019 state population: 12,671,821

Illinois’s restrictions lifted on May 29, with many restaurants and other businesses reopening June 3. The state made waves when they closed a popular bike and pedestrian path, but parks are reopening in a limited way on June 8. Salons, tattoo parlors, retail, and many workplace offices are reopened now.

[Pictured: A hairdresser serves a customer in Chicago, June 3, 2020.]

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Arlington County // Flickr

#3. Virginia

- Length of official stay-at-home order: 72 days
--- Date order started: March 30, 2020
--- Date order expired: June 10, 2020
- 2019 state population: 8,535,519

Virginia’s shelter-in-place does not end until June 10, but Gov. Ralph Northam opened salons and outdoor dining in mid-May. Now, most things are open, from retail to beaches to religious centers. The state has only begun to see a decrease in new cases the week of June 1.

[Pictured: Drive-through donations of supplies to help combat COVID-19, occurring on April 3, 2020, in Arlington County.]

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f11photo // Shutterstock

#2. New Jersey

- Length of official stay-at-home order: 76 days
--- Date order started: March 21, 2020
--- Date order expired: June 5, 2020
- 2019 state population: 8,882,190

New Jersey has one of the latest reopening dates on June 5 and then more on June 15. But, like neighboring New York, the strict lockdown has helped to stabilize and then reduce new cases, and positive tests per 100,000 residents are down to just 8.8. Beaches and construction sites have reopened with restrictions, with more to follow soon.

[Pictured: View from Hudson River Waterfront Walkway in Jersey City.]

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NicoleTaklaPhotography // Shutterstock

#1. Michigan

- Length of official stay-at-home order: 80 days
--- Date order started: March 24, 2020
--- Date order expired: June 12, 2020
- 2019 state population: 9,986,857

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has taken a county-level approach in this battleground state, although she did extend the statewide shelter-in-place from June 1 to June 12. Even so, many workplace sites and offices are reopened around the state, with restaurants and outdoor activities open in some places as well. Michigan’s rates of COVID-19 are considered low.

[Pictured: Detroit cityscape.]

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