CORONAVIRUS

Trump Resists National Shutdown, Leaving It Up To States

Apr 1, 2020, 2:55 PM | Updated: Jul 1, 2022, 11:32 pm

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks in the Rose Garden for the daily coronavirus briefing at the Whi...

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks in the Rose Garden for the daily coronavirus briefing at the White House on March 29, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

(Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is resisting calls to issue a national stay-at-home order to stem the spread of the new coronavirus despite his administration’s projections that tens of thousands of Americans are likely to be killed by the disease. One by one, though, states are increasingly pushing shutdown orders of their own.

Trump said earlier this week that he and members of his administration had discussed issuing a stay-at-home order but it was “pretty unlikely” for now. The White House later released “sobering” new projections that 100,000 to 240,000 Americans will likely succumb to the coronavirus even if current social distancing guidelines are maintained.

Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Wednesday the nation’s federalist system leaves much of the authority on how to properly respond to catastrophes to individual state governors and local officials.

“We trust the governors and the mayors to understand their people and understand whether or not they feel like they can trust the people in their states to make the right decisions,” Adams said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

On Wednesday alone, three more states — Florida, Nevada and Pennsylvania — added or expanded their stay-at-home orders.

But the invocation of federalism in the midst of a crisis that threatens a nationwide body count on par with some of the deadliest American wars suggests that Trump and his advisers are cognizant of the political ramifications of their response. Republican governors in states like Florida, Texas and Nebraska have questioned the necessity of applying strong social distancing rules to rural or exurban areas that haven’t reported much evidence of the virus so far.

The lack of a unified, 50-state response also collides with evidence emerging that coronavirus infections are being spread by people who have no clear symptoms, complicating efforts to gain control of the pandemic. A study conducted by researchers in Singapore and published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday is the latest to estimate that around 10% of new coronavirus infections may be spread by people who were infected with the virus but not experiencing symptoms.

The White House’s best-case projection for loss of life assumes statewide stay-at-home orders, according to a senior administration official familiar with Trump’s thinking. Trump, the official said, is a believer in federalism and that it is up to individual governors to set restrictions for their states. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal discussions.

More than 272 million people live in the 38 states where governors have declared statewide shelter-in-place orders or have recommended that residents stay home. In other states — places like Iowa, Nebraska and Georgia, among others — governors have resisted state-level decisions, but some localities have declared residents should stay at home. Those types of local orders cover Atlanta, St. Louis and Oklahoma City, along with dozens of other counties and cities.

Still, Trump — who has conducted long, near-daily briefings on his administration’s response to the virus outbreak over the last three weeks — has been reluctant so far to use his bully pulpit to urge governors to issue orders that would help effectively create a national quarantine.

The deference has come even as his administration has issued guidelines that have urged Americans to work from home if possible, cancel on-site instruction at schools, and avoid large gatherings. The resistance to a more robust response comes even as Vice President Mike Pence said White House models for the coronavirus toll show the country on a trajectory akin to hard-hit Italy.

Speaking to CNN, Pence said, “We think Italy may be the most comparable area to the United States at this point.” Italy, which has already recorded more than 13,000 deaths, has issued a nationwide quarantine, shutting down almost all industrial production and offices and largely prohibiting residents from leaving their homes.

There are signs that Trump administration officials are pushing behind the scenes for holdout governors to issue statewide quarantines.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had resisted issuing a statewide order but reversed course and issued one Wednesday as federal and local pressure mounted for him to abandon the county-by-county approach he had implemented.

DeSantis, a Republican, told reporters that he decided to issue the order after consulting with Trump and White House advisers.

Rep. Donna Shalala, a Florida Democrat, said earlier Wednesday that Trump should be pressing governors for a unified approach to help stem the spread of the disease, calling his response so far “fragmented, weak and uneven.”

“He hasn’t made a national plea to say we’re all in this together, and he hasn’t even talked to the governors about all doing the same thing,” Shalala, who was secretary of health and human services under President Bill Clinton, said in an interview.

Authority to order quarantines inside states rests almost entirely with states under provisions in the U.S. Constitution ceding power not explicitly delegated to the federal government to states, courts have ruled consistently for years. While the federal government itself can’t order nationwide quarantines or impose quarantines on states, courts have said it has clear power under constitutional clauses regulating commerce to quarantine international travelers or those traveling state to state who might be carriers of deadly diseases.

A few legal scholars have argued that the Constitution’s Commerce Clause may vest Trump with powers to impose a multiple state or national lockdown with or without states’ approval, though any such move under that minority interpretation would almost certainly be challenged immediately as unconstitutional.

Pence told CNN that leaders and residents of states that haven’t been hard hit are already taking action to slow the virus’ spread.

In Nebraska, Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts has said he’s basing his decisions on the advice he gets from public health experts at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, which has dealt extensively with outbreaks and served as a quarantine space for Ebola patients. In Iowa, Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds has resisted a mandatory shelter-in- place order, saying the data she looks at doesn’t yet justify it in her state.

Ricketts, a vocal Trump supporter, has repeatedly said he won’t impose a stay-at-home order in Nebraska but has ordered restaurants either to close their dining areas or allow no more than 10 people inside at once, depending on their location in the state.

In Texas, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has ordered schools to stay closed through at least May and imposed restrictions that doctors and even his critics say are tantamount to a stay-at-home order for the state. Still, Abbott refused to call it that.

“This is not a stay-at-home strategy. A stay-at-home strategy would mean that you have to stay home,” Abbott said. “This is a standard based upon essential services and essential activities.”


Madhani reported from Chicago. Associated Press writers Meghan Hoyer, Colleen Long and Dino Hazell in Washington, Paul J. Weber in Austin, Texas, Grant Schulte in Lincoln, Nebraska, Brendan Farrington in Tallahassee, Florida, and David Pitt in Des Moines, Iowa, contributed reporting.

KSL 5 TV Live

Coronavirus

Deer Creek Reservoir...

Alex Cabrero

State parks expecting another record visitation year, hiring more workers

It didn't matter how cold or snowy it was at Deer Creek State Park Friday afternoon. Nothing was going to stop Leonard Sawyer from taking his boat out to do a little fishing.

17 days ago

FILE —  Respiratory virus illness activity continues to increase across the US.
(Joe Burbank/Orl...

Emma Benson

‘Not viruses to mess around with’: Experts urge caution during ongoing ‘tripledemic’

Experts say though not as severe as last year, this winter we're seeing another "tripledemic" – rising cases of COVID-19, flu and RSV in Utah.

2 months ago

FILE - COVID-19 antigen home tests. (AP Photo/Patrick Sison, File)Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS...

Emma Benson

‘The ICUs are full:’ Keep yourself and others healthy this holiday

It's time for holiday gatherings, but with more people around us comes a greater risk of getting sick.

2 months ago

Julianna Preece goes through the mountain of medical documents she's acquired for her health condit...

Lauren Steinbrecher

Herriman couple is suing CVS, says 5x Covid vaccine dose mistake caused health problems

A couple is suing a Utah CVS vaccination clinic, saying a nurse’s mistake led to the wife receiving five times the normal COVID-19 vaccine dose and caused serious health issues she’s still dealing with today.

3 months ago

FILE - COVID-19 antigen home tests. (AP Photo/Patrick Sison, File)Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS...

Associated Press

More free COVID-19 tests from the government are available for home delivery through the mail

Americans can order more free COVID-19 tests online for home delivery.

4 months ago

FILE - Doses of the anti-viral drug Paxlovid are displayed in New York, Aug. 1, 2022. The COVID-19 ...

Amanda Seitz, Associated Press

COVID-19 treatments to enter the market with a hefty price tag

The COVID-19 treatments millions of have taken for free from the federal government will enter the private market next week with a hefty price tag.

4 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Trump Resists National Shutdown, Leaving It Up To States