Customers keep popping into the New York City dry-cleaning shop where Rolando Matute works to say how happy they are to see it open again. He’s not so sure.

“I don’t really feel safe,” he said on Tuesday, his third day back at MCMB Cleaners in Harlem. “I’m dealing with a lot of clothes, a lot of credit cards and a lot of customers, but I feel like I have to because I have a family. Someone has to work.”

Americans locked at home for more than two months seem resigned to participating in a coronavirus experiment that begins in earnest this Memorial Day weekend, with all 50 states open at least in part. People are filling resorts, casting aside masks at the mall and weighing the dangers of a meal out. That freedom could revive an economy that has seen almost 39 million people file for unemployment over the past nine weeks, more than during the whole of the Great Recession.

However, many workers are anxious about returning during a pandemic in which cases have leveled off in many areas, but haven’t dropped as dramatically as many health experts would have liked.

Matute has moved into his basement in the Bronx out of fear of bringing the virus home to his wife, two daughters and asthmatic mother. His wife leaves his dinner on the back patio every night, alongside the food bowls for their two cats. His 3-year-old waves as he retrieves it.

“I’m like a cat, eating dinner on the patio,” said Matute, 36. “I don’t even go into the house anymore.”

Almost 94,000 Americans have already died from Covid-19 and another 50,000 might by August — if states don’t deviate from their announced plans to ease social distancing, according to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

Without a coherent national strategy, Americans are confronting that grim prospect in different ways. People in hard-hit New York are cautiously stepping out and testing new social norms. In freewheeling Florida, hotel bookings in the Gulf Coast playground of Destin were down only 22% in the week ended May 16 compared with the same week last year, according to hospitality researcher STR. In early April, they were down 84%.

Fresh flare-ups of disease “will test our social fabric and bring these differences into relief,” said Ayman Fanous, chair of psychiatry at Brooklyn’s SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University. “Conflict is inevitable as people are just going to reach breaking point.”

Americans’ division over how to cope with the virus was starkly sketched this week in interviews around the nation:

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