Updated Mar 25, 2020 - Politics & Policy

America's incomplete coronavirus shutdown

Data: Axios reporting; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

If President Trump follows through on his statements that he wants to "open" the U.S. up again, an already patchwork shield of state "stay at home" orders could look like even more of a patchwork.

The big picture: As of Wednesday night, just 21 states have ordered people to stay at home, and most of those are states with Democratic governors. Only six — Ohio, Indiana, Idaho, West Virginia, Massachusetts and Vermont — have Republican governors.

  • If Trump declares it's time to start getting back to normal, those GOP governors could face pressure to start easing their own social restrictions, too.
  • That doesn't mean they'll do it, but the political pressure will intensify every time Trump talks about the importance of restarting the economy. And it could become even less likely that other Republican governors will impose stay-at-home orders of their own.

Between the lines: Some Republican governors, like Greg Abbott of Texas, have resisted calls to issue statewide stay-at-home orders, leaving it to cities and counties to issue their own restrictions.

  • Not all Democratic governors have ordered statewide restrictions, either. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, for example, issued a stay-at-home order for people in the hardest-hit areas, but not for the whole state.
  • There are 26 Republican governors and 24 Democratic governors — and seven Republicans are up for re-election, compared to four Democrats.

The bottom line: The "mitigation strategy" of social distancing urged by health experts has been uneven throughout the U.S. — and it's likely to get more uneven.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to note that Massachusetts has a Republican governor, not a Democratic governor.

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