Apr 13, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump says decision on coronavirus reopening belongs to him, not governors

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump tweeted Monday that the "decision to open up the states" following shutdown measures taken to stop the spread of the coronavirus lies with him, not governors.

Why it matters: The tweet undermines talking points from both the administration and conservatives on the coronavirus shutdown — and overstates Trump's constitutional authority.

  • It sets up a potential showdown between the president and the states as some in the White House eye May 1 to begin an economic restart.

What he's saying: Trump's tweet claims that a reopening call is "the decision of the President, and for many good reasons."

  • "With that being said, the Administration and I are working closely with the Governors, and this will continue. A decision by me, in conjunction with the Governors and input from others, will be made shortly!" he added.

Reality check: The federal government does not have the power to implement nationwide measures to stop the spread of the virus — or move toward a reopening — though the president has used his daily briefings and social media to influence governors' decisions.

  • Trump advisers told Axios on multiple occasions that the administration's "Slow the Spread" guidelines were intended to put pressure on governors — and that it is ultimately up to the states to determine shelter-in-place rules.
  • John Malcolm, a constitutional law expert at the conservative Heritage Foundation, told AP earlier this month that Trump's comments on issuing and easing lockdowns "are just advisory."

Go deeper

Cities' budget woes worsen with increased social unrest

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Cities were already furloughing workers and considering cutting back essential services — including public safety — because of the dramatic drops in the local tax revenue that funds them. Now they're also dealing with turmoil in their streets.

Why it matters: "Unfortunately, the increasing levels of social unrest across the country reallocated efforts and scarce resources away from the former focus of getting state, regional and local economies back to some semblance of normalcy," per Tom Kozlik, head of municipal strategy and credit at HilltopSecurities.

16 hours ago - Health

Americans will be forced to weigh personal coronavirus risk as states reopen

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The U.S. is about to embark upon the most momentous social experiment in living memory: What happens when you take laissez-faire economic principles and apply them to public health?

Why it matters: When millions of people make their own individual risk/reward calculations, the result is superior to top-down decision-making by the government. That's the central tenet of capitalism — but you'd be hard-pressed to find any epidemiologists making the same argument.

Updated 10 hours ago - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

The Department of Health and Human Services moved on Thursday to require that an individual's race, ethnicity, age and sex be submitted to the agency with novel coronavirus test results.

Why it matters: Some cities and states have reported the virus is killing black people at disproportionately high rates. There are gaps in the national picture of how many people of color are affected, since the data has not been a requirement for states to collect or disclose.