Trump vs. US governors: Who decides when states reopen?

Coronavirus

(KRON) – President Donald Trump on Monday responded to claims after governors and top health experts raised concerns about his goal to reopen the US economy as early as next month.

“For the purpose of creating conflict and confusion, some in the Fake News Media are saying that it is the Governors decision to open up the states, not that of the President of the United States & the Federal Government. Let it be fully understood that this is incorrect…,” Trump tweeted. “It is the decision of the President, and for many good reasons. With that being said, the Administration and I are working closely with the Governors, and this will continue. A decision by me, in conjunction with the Governors and input from others, will be made shortly!”

Trump’s goal of reopening the country next month has prompted warnings from some who say acting too quickly could lead to a worsening of the pandemic.

“I fear, if we open up too early and we have not sufficiently made that health recovery and cracked the back of this virus, that we could be pouring gasoline on the fire, even inadvertently,” Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“People want to get back to work,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News over the weekend. “We are setting up a council of some of the most distinguished leaders in virtually every field, including politics, business and medical. And we’ll be making that decision fairly soon.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-diseases expert, expressed measured optimism on Sunday that parts of the country could begin slowly relaxing stay-at-home orders as part of a “rolling reentry” amid the coronavirus pandemic as early as next month.

“I think it could probably start, at least in some ways, maybe next month,” Fauci said on “State of the Union.” “We are hoping by the end of the month we can look around and say, OK, is there any element here that we can safely and cautiously start pulling back on? If so, do it. If not, then just continue to hunker down.”

While federal social distancing guidelines issued by Trump rolled out March 16, they are not mandatory.

More than 40 states have imposed statewide stay-at-home orders for their entire population, according to the National Governors Association. That of course includes California, with the Bay Area being among the first to issue such orders.

“First and foremost, states currently retain power to decide who stays home and for how long,” according to an analysis for Lawfare. “Among the powers generally reserved to the states is the authority to quarantine individuals and otherwise protect public health.” 

Federal law allows Washington to impose quarantines in some circumstances and limit travel between states, but the Trump administration has not invoked those powers, USA Today reports.

At last check, the US has reported more than 558,000 cases in the country, surpassing any other nation in the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

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