In addition, counties have sued churches and schools for violating coronavirus orders. Fresno County obtained a preliminary injunction against a Christian school, Immanuel, for returning to in-person classes in August in violation of state orders. Both Los Angeles and Santa Clara Counties obtained court orders against churches for defying health orders.
The state restrictions limiting attendance at religious services had been upheld by a federal judge, but on Thursday the U.S. Supreme Court vacated his ruling and asked him to reconsider in light of its recent decision to end restrictions on houses of worship in New York.
In Las Cruces, N.M., the rhythms of daily life revealed how America’s lockdowns often look punitive on paper but are looser in practice.
In the middle of a two-week shutdown ordered by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, Las Cruces was not so much on pause as it was on mute. The highways were jammed. Restaurants were banned from serving meals on-site, but a line of cars idled through the drive-through of a Whataburger.
“It’s a challenge,” Mayor Ken Miyagishima said. “If you look at the history of America, they left England because they didn’t really want to be told what to do. I think that’s in the fiber of Americans.”
Even government officials are under fire for failing to self-enforce their own rules.
Mr. Newsom and the mayor of San Francisco faced widespread criticism after they were spotted at the upscale French Laundry restaurant for separate events. The mayor of Denver had to apologize for flying to Mississippi to spend Thanksgiving with family.
In Texas, the top elected official in Williamson County, Judge Bill Gravell Jr., had issued a series of orders that put the county under a “Stay Home Stay Safe” lockdown throughout April. Community gatherings of 10 people or more were prohibited.
But Mr. Gravell was spotted during the shutdown at his grandson’s birthday party, dressed as a firefighter. He was charged with violating the local emergency management plan, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor last month and was convicted and sentenced, according to court documents. His punishment was a $1,000 fine.
Jill Cowan reported from Los Angeles, Jack Healy from Denver, and Thomas Fuller from Moraga, Calif. Manny Fernandez contributed reporting from Houston, and Lucy Tompkins and Katie Glueck from New York.