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

During pandemic, Rio de Janeiro residents fear police

Marina Guimaraes May 27, 2020

Recovering from drugs during a pandemic

Kyla Milberger May 26, 2020

  Covid-19 takes away the communal joy at Eid-al-Fitr celebration

Narkwor Kwablaa May 25, 2020

Beloved old school game sees boom in numbers during coronavirus quarantine

Michael Yang May 15, 2020

Coronavirus leaves the fate of some beloved New York events uncertain

Emily Glass May 15, 2020

South Africa’s lockdown exposes inequalities

Kathleen Taylor May 14, 2020

Churchgoers find spiritual growth through virtual services 

Harrison Tsui May 14, 2020

” I’m working with COVID patients tonight”

Margaret Guzman May 14, 2020

Singles connect on Tinder to fight quarantine blues 

Yaroslava Bondar May 14, 2020

Jewish traditions during a pandemic

Sydney Fishman May 13, 2020

The Bible and Coronavirus

Jonathan Sarabia May 13, 2020

Doctor uses social media to give advice and hope

Sope Aluko May 12, 2020

First Sandy, Now COVID: Lower East Side Activists Grapple With Construction for Climate Project

Izzie Ramirez May 12, 2020

Dating during a pandemic

Bessie Liu May 12, 2020

The last reponders

Shiyu Xu May 11, 2020

When the pandemic hits a shelter for abused boys 

Amanda Perez Pintado May 11, 2020

Portugal contains the coronavirus despite Spain’s woes

Catarina Lamelas Moura May 11, 2020

Warm weather brings crowds to Prospect Park

Bessie Liu May 11, 2020

New York coronavirus numbers continue to fall

Jonathan Sarabia May 10, 2020

Living through the pandemic while a loved one is behind bars

Amanda Perez Pintado May 10, 2020

Pandemic ends all high school senior year traditions

Jonathan Sarabia May 10, 2020

Coronavirus might have caused the death of many children who were misdiagnosed 

Ximena Del Cerro May 9, 2020

Farmers destroy staggering amounts of food even as food lines grow

Karen Camela Watson May 9, 2020

Coronavirus pandemic threatens border towns in Mexico

Sydney Fishman and Ximena Del Cerro May 9, 2020

Pence’s press secretary tests positive for Covid-19

Shiyu Xu May 8, 2020

During pandemic NYC tenants in limbo

John DiLillo May 8, 2020

Llamas could be coronavirus heroes

Catarina Lamelas Moura May 8, 2020

Lawmakers, Legal Experts Clash Over Much Needed Business Interruption Insurance Coverage for Small Businesses

James Duffy May 8, 2020

Rent relief in NY, JetBlue’s flyover and Trump’s valet tests positive for coronavirus in today’s news

Amanda Perez Pintado May 7, 2020

Coronavirus tears through the Navajo Nation 

Amanda Perez Pintado May 7, 2020

In Singapore, spaces close, but restaurants open

Yifan Yu May 6, 2020

Press secretary calls Fauci testifying before congress “publicity stunt”

Kathleen Taylor May 6, 2020

Harry Potter and the Magical Malady of the Movies

Ahad Sanwari May 6, 2020

Trump speaks to human loss, Cuomo lashes out at President’s comments

Catarina Lamelas Moura May 5, 2020

PPE in the city

Narkwor Kwabla May 5, 2020

Boring Politics is Good Politics – Especially in a Pandemic

Serafina Smith May 5, 2020

Stuck: Life under quarantine in Rio de Janeiro

Marina Guimaraes May 5, 2020

New York’s Emptiness

Maria Abreu May 5, 2020

In an Airbnb Room During Lockdown in Jamaica, Queens

Dayo Paul May 4, 2020

What Temporary Means: Portraits of family at home

Guillermo Manning May 4, 2020

Stockholm Stays Open

Tatiana Kireeva May 4, 2020

NYC now producing its own coronavirus test kits

Maureen Mullarkey May 3, 2020

Miss you, mom: Spending Ramadan together through a screen

Maznah Shehzad May 3, 2020

Life in front of a screen

Patricio Zenklussen May 3, 2020

Coronavirus and the Shincheonji

Bessie Liu May 3, 2020

It’s The Little Things

Sope Aluko May 3, 2020

Days In, Days Out: A doctor’s life during Covid-19

Elsa Benamouzig May 2, 2020

Contactless: Food Delivery amid COVID-19

Keighton Li May 2, 2020

Hasidic South Williamsburg Resists the New Reality

Leo Schwartz May 2, 2020

Solace in Suburbia

Susanne Schweitzer May 2, 2020