In the absence of a national order, which President Donald Trump once again refused to give on Friday, a patchwork of rules has emerged in every corner of the country that offer conflicting indications of how citizens should behave. protect and protect their families from coronavirus.
“I leave it to the governors. Governors know what they are doing, “said Trump during his daily White House briefing. “The states we are talking about are not threatened. “
It was not until late Friday that Alabama took action, with Governor Kay Ivey turning the corner and imposing a state-wide mandate starting on Saturday. Missouri Governor Mike Parson followed suit a day after declaring that his condition was not easily amenable to “general command.” He signed just that, but said it would not take effect until Monday.
The other exceptions are eight red states, which Trump took away all four years ago and hopes to do so again in the fall. They stretch from south to midwest and west, covering the alphabet from Arkansas to Wyoming.
It’s not like the new coronavirus hasn’t touched each of their states in some way. Yet a combination of state mistrust of rights, the persuasion of some business and agricultural leaders, and a largely rural makeup marked these governors as outliers during a time of national crisis, where actions by only one can potentially affect all of them.
In South Dakota, a Republican state legislator was among the first in the state to test positive, followed soon after by his wife, brother, and sister-in-law. Her 51-year-old niece died of Covid-19, family members told reporters, with several others showing symptoms.
Explaining his rationale for issuing a stay order, Governor Kristi Noem told reporters, “The people themselves are primarily responsible for their safety. She also highlighted the state and national constitutions that “prevent us from taking draconian measures just as the Chinese government has done.”
State after state, Republican governors have all used the government intrusion argument as one of the main reasons for not following the lead of a majority of states by issuing more stringent guidelines that could help sound the alarm as to the seriousness of the threat.
All states have made strong recommendations for social distancing, and at least half have some degree of restrictive measures in place, often because mayors or county officials have made local decisions. But these governors have stopped giving statewide orders that have been in place for weeks elsewhere.
On Friday in Iowa, a state medical board voted unanimously to recommend a so-called on-site shelter to limit residents’ travel to essential work and travel.
“A stronger commitment to isolation is in the best interest of the public and health care providers,” said Kent Nebel, executive director of the Iowa Board of Medicine, in the Des Moines Register.
Governor Kim Reynolds said she is looking at statewide data, which she says doesn’t yet deserve a statewide directive to restrict travel to places that have not not yet been affected by the coronavirus. As of Friday evening, the state had nearly 700 cases and 11 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
She admitted on Friday that the refusal to impose shelter there had become a “division problem”. She rejected Fauci’s remark that asked why all states had not issued residence orders.
“I would say he may not have all the information,” Reynolds told reporters. “You can’t just look at a map and assume that no action has been taken. “
Other governors have said they follow medical advice from their own experts, including in Nebraska, where Governor Pete Ricketts said he relies on his advisers rather than national health officials.
He pointed out Dr. James Lawler, co-director of the Global Center for Health Security at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, who said that people should spend more time listening to social distancing and hand washing warnings, rather than to focus on the semantics of a statewide order.
“I think we really should be focusing on improving compliance and membership,” Lawler told reporters. “It depends on the people who take it seriously and do the right thing. “
He added that if the Nebraskans did “what we have already done and we are doing it right, I think we will get a lot more for our money than we would do in taking a much more draconian stance.”
The rest are North Dakota, South Carolina, and Utah. In each state, Republican governors have been urged by experts and Democratic officials to take the extra step of ordering statewide, even if the action would only serve to draw attention to the growing severity of the health crisis, but several have made it clear that they are taking their cues from the White House.
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson continued to challenge calls for a statewide order and dismissed Fauci’s comments.
“It is understandable that (Fauci) sees this as a solution, a nationwide closure order. What is important is that it has not been given, “Hutchinson said Friday at a press conference. “The CDC – I look at its guidelines regularly – and they didn’t say it was an appropriate or necessary step across the country. “
In North Dakota, Governor Doug Burgum has acknowledged that some residents take the guidelines on social estrangement and restriction of gatherings seriously, while others do not. However, he said he resisted statewide order, urging residents to “stay home, stay healthy and stay connected.”
In South Carolina, Governor Henry McMaster declared a state of emergency last month, restricted the use of state beaches and ordered the closure of non-essential businesses. But he stopped issuing a state-wide order, saying, “We don’t order people to stay at home, but from the very beginning, we told them to stay at home.”
In Utah, Governor Gary Herbert has resisted arguments from officials and leaders in Salt Lake City in five of the 29 counties in the state where local home stay orders are in place. He said his “stay home, stay safe” instructions set a more positive tone, without a statewide warrant.
In Wyoming, where the state medical society applied for a home care order this week, Governor Mark Gordon said he thought such a state-wide directive would not reach his goal. goal. His spokesperson told reporters that the governor was more focused on “the change in behavior right now.”
Aid to several of the Republican governors said the only persuasion likely to shift their positions was specific directives from the president.
But with each new order, it becomes clear that the rules are far from uniform across states. The Alabama order signed on Friday, for example, leaves big box and garden stores open, prompting local Birmingham officials to follow their previous and stricter policy of traveling for things that people only need to survive.
Governor Ron DeSantis in Florida had repeatedly rejected the idea of imposing a statewide home stay order as coronavirus cases increased. But then, this week, he suddenly urged the Americans to prepare for “two very difficult weeks” after quoting “the behavior of the president in recent days” to explain why he was taking this step.
DeSantis said it was the president’s alarm – not warnings from health officials for weeks – that ultimately convinced him.