President Trump resists national shutdown, leaving it up to states

President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference about the coronavirus in the Rose Garden of the White House, Friday, March 13, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

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

Posted: Apr 1, 2020 2:08 PM
Updated: Apr 1, 2020 2:09 PM

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. Then on Tuesday the White House offered “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.

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 who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters. 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 said the White House thinking is that states are being hit by the virus with varying degrees of severity and they are best able to adapt the policies for their specific situations.

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."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 25870

Reported Deaths: 1097
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin8738633
Ramsey3189134
Stearns204714
Nobles15585
Anoka147073
Dakota138859
Washington67033
Olmsted65411
Kandiyohi5051
Rice4802
Scott4552
Clay43529
Mower3662
Wright3322
Todd3300
Sherburne2482
Carver2242
Benton1813
Steele1670
Blue Earth1480
Martin1325
Freeborn1300
St. Louis11814
Pine900
Nicollet8810
Winona8015
Watonwan780
Cottonwood770
Carlton750
Crow Wing754
Unassigned7411
Lyon711
Otter Tail710
Goodhue704
Chisago641
Polk612
Itasca5610
Dodge530
Chippewa511
Morrison480
Le Sueur461
Meeker450
Douglas440
Becker410
Jackson400
Murray390
McLeod370
Isanti350
Waseca270
Rock230
Mille Lacs221
Pennington210
Faribault200
Swift190
Wabasha180
Beltrami180
Brown172
Fillmore171
Sibley160
Norman140
Kanabec121
Marshall120
Cass122
Pipestone120
Wilkin113
Aitkin110
Wadena100
Pope90
Koochiching90
Big Stone80
Lincoln60
Mahnomen61
Yellow Medicine60
Redwood60
Renville50
Traverse40
Grant40
Red Lake40
Clearwater30
Hubbard30
Lac qui Parle30
Roseau30
Houston20
Stevens10
Lake10
Kittson10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 20264

Reported Deaths: 574
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk4406134
Woodbury281737
Black Hawk175946
Linn96779
Dallas92924
Buena Vista9181
Marshall90118
Johnson6169
Wapello60714
Muscatine56341
Crawford5422
Tama40828
Scott36810
Dubuque35121
Louisa34611
Pottawattamie29610
Sioux2900
Jasper26317
Wright1940
Washington1928
Warren1530
Plymouth1392
Allamakee1204
Story1181
Mahaska9712
Poweshiek918
Henry722
Bremer696
Boone670
Des Moines661
Clinton651
Clarke640
Taylor590
Guthrie533
Cedar491
Hamilton450
Benton441
Webster441
Monroe385
Shelby370
Jones370
Cherokee360
Marion340
Clayton343
Osceola340
Iowa330
Buchanan330
Jefferson330
Cerro Gordo301
Madison292
Lee280
Davis270
Fayette270
Dickinson270
Harrison260
Sac250
Lyon250
Monona250
Winneshiek240
Clay210
Grundy200
Mills200
Floyd191
Emmet190
Hardin190
Lucas191
Delaware191
Humboldt181
Butler171
Hancock160
Franklin150
Page140
Pocahontas140
Ida140
Keokuk140
Appanoose143
Audubon131
Jackson130
Greene130
Kossuth130
Carroll130
Chickasaw120
Cass120
Howard120
Winnebago110
Adair90
Union90
Van Buren90
Montgomery81
Adams70
Palo Alto70
Calhoun40
Fremont40
Ringgold40
Mitchell40
Worth30
Wayne10
Decatur10
Unassigned00
Rochester
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Mason City
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Albert Lea
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Austin
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Charles City
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