Special Report

Shutdown: The Coronavirus

Trump will announce state guidelines for reopening the country on Thursday

President Trump wants the country to reopen as soon as possible. Photo by @malisunshine via Twenty20

The past couple of days have been marked by a struggle between state and federal governments over who has the authority to reopen the economy, amid the coronavirus pandemic. And President Trump has doubled down on the role of the federal government.

At the White House press briefing on the coronavirus today, Trump said his administration will be reaching out to governors on Thursday, to announce new federal guidelines about reopening the country.

He said some states would be opening sooner than others, hopefully some as early as May 1st.

“We wanna get our country open again,” Trump said. “We’re gonna have an economy that really comes back quickly.”

This comes after the president had already backpaddled on his earlier statement that the federal government had “absolutely authority” to reopen the country. 

“The president of the United States calls the shots,” Trump said on Monday, in a particularly contentious press briefing. “I have the ultimate authority.”

Then on Tuesday, he said that it would be up to each individual state to return to normal, adding that they would still need his authorization to do so.

“I’m not going to put any pressure on any governor to open,” he said.

Pundits have been quick to point out how his earlier statements were false.

“It’s so plain and obvious it’s not even debatable,” Kathleen Bergin, a professor at Cornell Law School, told NPR. “Trump has no authority to ease social distancing, or to open schools or private businesses. These are matters for states to decide under their power to promote public health and welfare, a power guaranteed by the 10th Amendment to the Constitution.”

Others have criticized Trump for refusing to issue a nationwide stay-at-home order, even though numbers of coronavirus cases were growing rapidly in states like Florida, which only told its residents to stay home at the beginning of April, instead deferring responsibility to state governments.

“The president is certainly the captain of the ship, but he jumped overboard about three months ago, when he decided to leave all the tough decisions to the governors and the mayors,” Democrat Senator Chris Murphy said on a conference call with reporters Tuesday.

While Trump continues to refer to May 1st as a desired point of reference for reopening the country, some state governors have indicated that this will be a slow and gradual process.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo,  said today that we will see a “phased reopening” and that it will likely take around 18 months to fully get back to the “new normal”. He also announced an executive order requiring residents to wear masks every time they are in a public space where they cannot maintain social distance. California Governor Gavin Newsom has so far abstained from indicating a possible date for ending the stay-at-home order.

“I know you want the timeline, but we can’t get ahead of ourselves and dream of regretting,” Newsom said. “Let’s not make the mistake of pulling the plug too early, as much as we want to.”

Meanwhile, Alabama Governor Will Ainsworth is considering whether the state can get non-essential businesses running again by May 1st. And Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy wants to reopen the state as early as next week.

 Trump, who yesterday announced the U.S. would be cutting funding to the World Health Organization, restated his criticism over the organization’s supposed “mismanagement of coronavirus”.

“I feel very badly about the world health organization,” Trump said. “But it’s been a tool of China.”

However, the president has himself been criticized for his own performance in dealing with the crisis, for failing to respond faster and even downplaying the threat of the spread as late as February.

And experts have come out to discredit his judgment of how the World Health Organization dealt with the pandemic, highlighting their transparency. 

“I have been a longstanding critic and I’ve described their performance on Ebola as catastrophic,” Ashish Jha, a public health professor at Harvard, told The Guardian. “But I think overall their performance on this outbreak has been, not perfect, but pretty good.”


Other Stories in Special Report: Shutdown: The Coronavirus

A tribute to the mask pioneers

Bohao Liu July 11, 2020

Air pollution in China rebounds to pre-COVID level

Hannah Zhang July 11, 2020

ICE takes aim at international students

Maria Abreu July 10, 2020

Chinese students trapped by new ICE policy

Zishu Sherry Qin July 10, 2020

New ICE policy adds more turmoil to the lives of international students

Shiyu Xu July 10, 2020

Lawsuits follow ICE policy barring international students who are taking online classes

Joanna Lin Su July 10, 2020

Economists say the US needs a bold, generous fiscal response. Congress is likely to disappoint. 

Ahmed Mohamed July 9, 2020

Overseas Singaporeans have pandemic obstacles to voting

Yifan Yu July 9, 2020

Proximity sensors and hygiene stations are the “new normal”

Joanna Lin Su July 9, 2020

 Tour ticket vendors miss the hustle and bustle of Times Square

Narkwor Kwabla July 8, 2020

Dengue outbreak could be a greater threat than covid in Singapore

Yifan Yu July 8, 2020

Corporate bankruptcy: ‘A story that’s not going away’

Gaurav Sharma July 7, 2020

Beijing reopens as the second wave of coronavirus dies down

Hannah Zhang July 6, 2020

Masks or no masks?

Bohao Liu July 5, 2020

Varsity Flu

Madeline Gunderson July 3, 2020

Rail travel in China is popular during the pandemic and filled with safety measures

Bohao Liu July 3, 2020

Brazilian international student caught in US travel ban.

Marina Guimaraes July 3, 2020

MTA faces crisis following COVID shutdown

Daniel Girma July 2, 2020

Easter Market goes back to its roots

Kyla Milberger July 2, 2020

China’s Airline Industry Aims to Lure Back Passengers with Unlimited Flight Pass

Zishu Sherry Qin July 1, 2020

US corporate debt soars during coronavirus outbreak

Gaurav Sharma June 30, 2020

In Singapore, gay pride goes online

Yifan Yu June 29, 2020

The Hair Room reopens

Shiyu Xu June 29, 2020

A second wave of the coronavirus creates travel woes in Beijing

Hannah Zhang June 29, 2020

Despite a few bumps, NYC is social distancing more than not

Joanna Lin Su June 29, 2020

Backyard music lessons

Madeline Gunderson June 28, 2020

Experts say ISIS exploits chaos of global pandemic to rebuild

Marina Guimaraes June 26, 2020

Cutting through COVID

Thomas Hengge June 26, 2020

Venezuelan government leaves residents stranded in U.S. during pandemic

Maria Abreu June 23, 2020

Vulnerable communities fear eviction as COVID-19 rent morotorium comes to an end

Jonathan Sarabia June 22, 2020

Beijing is China’s new epicenter for the coronavirus

Hannah Zhang June 22, 2020

Clock is ticking for NYC restaurants even as outdoor dining resumes  

Gaurav Sharma June 20, 2020

Michigan hair salons are back in business

Kyla Milberger June 17, 2020

Seafood markets in China lose business over new COVID-19 scare

Bohao Liu June 17, 2020

China resorts to street vending to revive its economy

Hannah Zhang June 16, 2020

The East Village is open! Well, sort of

Thomas Hengge June 15, 2020

My trip home during the pandemic

Zishu Sherry Qin June 15, 2020

Popular India Square “won’t be the same again” 

Gaurav Sharma June 13, 2020

Feds will not raise its key interest rate until 2022 and project slow recovery

Zishu Sherry Qin June 11, 2020

Despite pandemic, thousands of Syrians protest against government as economy collapses

Marina Guimaraes June 10, 2020

On the frontline of two deadly viruses

Narkwor Kwabla June 10, 2020

Bronx fish market struggles to stay afloat during pandemic

Daniel Girma June 9, 2020

Venezuelans leave behind a country in crisis only to encounter a new crisis in New York

Maria Abreu June 8, 2020

China promotes street vendors to reboot the economy

Bohao Liu June 8, 2020

For the developmentally disabled, COVID-19 brings new challenges

Kyla Milberger June 7, 2020

Giving food to Staten island vulnerable communities during the lockdown

Alpha Kamara June 6, 2020

Hong Kongers gather despite COVID-19 ban on Tiananmen vigil

Yifan Yu June 4, 2020

Army returns home after completing COVID-19 mission in New York 

Maria Abreu June 4, 2020

Ailana’s life in quarantine

Talgat Almanov June 3, 2020

Venezuela has another obstacle: the pandemic

Marina Guimaraes June 3, 2020