President Donald Trump has so far resisted calls for issuing a national “stay-at-home” order for all Americans (with exceptions for essential travels, such as forgetting food or medicine) in order to combat the spread of coronavirus.
On Wednesday, Trump expressed the desire to give governors “flexibility” in their response to the pandemic. By far, most states in the U.S. have implemented stay-at-home orders, but their directives are not uniform. A total of 10 states have not issued such decrees.
Trump’s decision not to make such an order appears to contradict his earlier statements. Earlier in the week, he said that social distancing measures were necessary for all Americans to follow if they wanted to see a faster end to the crisis. “The better you do, the faster this whole nightmare will end,” Trump said on Sunday.
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The lack of a national stay-at-home order appears to run counter to the desires of Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the nation’s top infectious disease experts and the most recognizable member of Trump’s coronavirus task force. Speaking Thursday in an interview on CNN, Fauci was asked whether a national policy, not a state-by-state approach, should be put in place.
“I don’t understand why that’s not happening,” he lamented. “I just don’t understand why we’re not doing that. We really should be,” Fauci said.
Fauci, who serves as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, added that he recognized there was a “states’ rights” argument in the whole matter, adding it wasn’t something that he wanted “to get into.”
A vast majority of the American populace agrees with Fauci’s assessments. According to a Morning Consult poll conducted last week, 74 percent of Americans support a national quarantine order, while less than 20 percent oppose the idea.
The support for a national stay-at-home order from the president transcends party lines, with 72 percent of Republicans agreeing that Trump should issue one in order to stop the spread of COVID-19. Only a quarter of Republican voters opposed such an order.
There are questions as to whether a stay-at-home mandate would be lawful at all, with a number of legal scholars arguing that it would violate tenets set forth in the Constitution. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes that such orders are constitutional, based on the Commerce Clause, but many view those arguments as being murky, at best.
Notably, all 10 states that haven’t produced stay-at-home orders went to Trump in the 2016 election.
With most states in the nation already under such orders, right now 90 percent of the population is currently under a stay-at-home mandate. But with 10 percent not subject to these kinds of restrictions, it makes it more difficult to “flatten the curve” to alleviate pressures placed on healthcare workers at the frontline of the crisis.