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Some close down, some resist restrictions

Some close down, some resist restrictions


WASHINGTON – In the absence of federal rules, the coronavirus pandemic has become a tale of 50 states – but they are far from united.

If you live in Louisiana, the governor says stay home. In neighboring Arkansas, you can go out and gather together without restrictions.

Kansas closed its public schools a week ago for the remainder of the school year. Next door in Nebraska and nearby in Iowa, no statewide orders were given.

In Kentucky, bars, restaurants, gyms, spas, theaters, sports arenas, even hair and nail salons have been ordered shut. But those decisions are left to local officials in Tennessee.

And while at least 11 states have moved their presidential primary elections, Wisconsin still plans to vote April 7, and hard-hit New York three weeks later.

Governors and municipal government officials are playing an outsized role in the coronavirus crisis for at least two reasons: States enjoy broad autonomy under the Constitution – and the Trump administration has left most of the decision-making to them.

“We're a country not based on nationalizing our business,” the president said Sunday in defending his decision not to use the Defense Production Act to order that companies produce medical supplies. 

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States have gone their own way during the coronavirus pandemic, led by activist governors such as New York's Andrew Cuomo.

Across the country, states have taken actions big and small, early and only recently, by regulation and recommendation, by executive fiat and through legislative action. As a result, the health and safety of Americans depends on where they live.

“We’re all taking different steps based on what we think is right for our states,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who chairs the National Governors Association, said on CNN Tuesday. “We’re just trying to take the best advice we can from the scientists and all of the experts and making the decisions that we believe are necessary.”


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