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The difference between 'stay-at-home' and 'stay home, work safe' orders

Most of us have heard about shelter-in-place orders, but unknown times call for measures that may not be common to anyone, such as the stay home order.

HOUSTON — The nation's response to the fight the contain COVID-19 has led to major cities issuing "stay home" or “stay-at-home” orders, which officials say are different than the more-commonly issued "shelter-in-place" orders.

One difference leaders have stressed is the shelter-in-place order evokes panic, and they don't think that's the appropriate response to the novel coronavirus at this time.

Shelter-in-place orders are issued during emergencies that pose a physical threat to the public. Shelter-in-place orders have been issued for active shooter situations, plant fires, hurricanes and floods, among other incidents.

The stay home order allows residents to leave their homes for "essential" reasons, such as necessary medical assistance, including the needs of pets. The stay-at-home order also allows for restaurants to remain open for permitted takeout and delivery orders, and also for people who provide other essential services — such as delivering mail, garbage collection and maintaining electrical systems to continue operating.


During most shelter-in-place orders, the public could be in direct physical danger if they leave their homes.

Another difference in the orders is that residents are allowed to go outside as long as they're following safe social distancing measures. Residents are not supposed to travel away from their homes unless it's for an essential reason. Each city, state and local government uses different wording for the essential reasons that permit citizens to be out of their homes.

Coronavirus symptoms

The symptoms of coronavirus can be similar to the flu or a bad cold. Symptoms include a fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Most healthy people will have mild symptoms. A study of more than 72,000 patients by the Centers for Disease Control in China showed 80 percent of the cases there were mild.

But infections can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death, according to the World Health Organization. Older people with underlying health conditions are most at risk.

The CDC believes symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 14 days after being exposed.

Human coronaviruses are usually spread through...

  • The air by coughing or sneezing
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.

Help stop the spread of coronavirus

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Eat and sleep separately from your family members
  • Use different utensils and dishes
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with your arm, not your hand.
  • If you use a tissue, throw it in the trash.

Lower your risk

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • If you are 60 or over and have an underlying health condition such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or respiratory illnesses like asthma or COPD, the World Health Organization advises you to try to avoid crowds or places where you might interact with people who are sick.

Get complete coverage of the coronavirus by texting 'FACTS' to 713-526-1111.


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