‘No time to get cocky’: Experts urge caution as governors weigh coronavirus reopenings
Governors across the nation have faced armed protesters and death threats as they have struggled with how to begin easing coronavirus restrictions on residents and businesses without creating new outbreaks of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
On Tuesday, as the nation’s top health officials warned that moving too quickly could lead to more infections and deaths, new polling indicated that Americans overwhelmingly approve of how the nation’s governors are handling the coronavirus outbreak, particularly those who have been the most cautious.
Despite pressure from protesters and the business community to reopen the economy, nearly three-quarters of Americans approved of their governors’ performance, according to a poll released Tuesday by the Washington Post and Ipsos.
Governors who acted swiftly to shut down their states in the face of the pandemic and have been cautious about reopening received the highest marks from their constituents — Republican Mike DeWine of Ohio with 86%, and Democrats Andrew Cuomo of New York with 81% and Gavin Newsom of California with 79%.
The governors of Florida and Texas, who are opening up their states in more rapid phases, fared worse, but still got high marks from more than half of respondents from their states. In Georgia, which drew alarm from health officials and the Trump administration for opening up hair salons, bowling alleys and restaurants last month, 61% of respondents disapproved of Gov. Brian Kemp’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
President Trump, whose approval rating was 43%, took at least partial credit for governors’ high marks.
“Remember this, every Governor who has sky high approval on their handling of the Coronavirus, and I am happy for them all, could in no way have gotten those numbers, or had that success, without me and the Federal Governments help,” Trump tweeted Tuesday. “From Ventilators to Testing, we made it happen!”
Throughout the coronavirus crisis, many state leaders have implored federal officials for assistance including, initially, ventilators, personal protective equipment and hospital beds. They continue to ask for a federal testing plan and supplies, as well as federal relief for state and local governments battered by increased expenses and lost revenue during the crisis.
Such relief was part of a $3-trillion proposal unveiled by House Democrats on Tuesday that also includes additional stimulus payments of $1,200 to most individuals.
Effective and widespread testing and contact tracing are considered essential for safely reopening economies, and continue to lag as state leaders decide what restrictions to lift on individuals and businesses. More than 82,000 people in the U.S. have been confirmed as dying from COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Trump, who for weeks had downplayed the risk of the novel coronavirus, has repeatedly called for the economy to reopen, despite the fact that few states appear to have met federal guidelines for safely reopening, notably a 14-day decline in new infections. He has chastised Democratic governors, claiming without evidence that they are moving slowly for political purposes.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, warned that if states move too quickly, they risk a resurgence of the virus.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, departing from Trump’s line, warns Congress that reopening too soon during the coronavirus outbreak could trigger new outbreaks.
“There is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you may not be able to control,” Fauci testified during a Senate committee hearing on Tuesday.
Several governors and local officials unveiled new responses to the pandemic on Tuesday, a broad array of strategies that illustrate how differently the virus has impacted — and is perceived — in different parts of the country.
In Georgia, Kemp further eased restrictions on restaurants and child-care facilities. In Texas, the state’s attorney general warned officials in three counties and two cities that some of their local restrictions “have grossly exceeded state law to impose their own will on private citizens and businesses.”
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced that the northern part of the state — the Washington, D.C., suburbs most impacted by coronavirus — could delay reopening until May 29.
And in California, as Newsom announced new rules that will allow restaurants, pet groomers and car washes to reopen in some counties, the public health director in Los Angeles County announced that a stay-at-home order would almost certainly be extended through the end of July.
Though the president has claimed that coronavirus infections are declining across the nation, infection rates appear to be increasing in nine states and Washington, D.C., NBC News reported based on an internal Department of Homeland Security analysis it obtained. The May 7 analysis named an additional nine states and Puerto Rico as locations to watch.
Thousands of people are catching the infection in the workplace, according to an Associated Press analysis. The 15 counties across the nation with the highest per-capita infection rates between April 28 and May 5 are home to meat and poultry processing plants or prisons, the AP found.
During the coronavirus outbreak, people with conditions like diabetes and kidney disease are adapting their medical routines to avoid exposure.
Additionally, scientists are monitoring a new way the virus is impacting children — a development that could have repercussions on whether schools reopen in fall.
Once thought to be largely immune to the virus, children in more than a dozen states have been diagnosed with a coronavirus infection leading to a toxic-shock-like response in their bodies, resulting in the inflammation of blood vessels and heart problems.
In New York, three children have died and about 100 have been diagnosed.
“It’s no time to get cocky, no time to get arrogant. This virus has deceived us every step of the way,” Cuomo said during his daily briefing. “We have been behind this virus from the very beginning. And it still surprises us. We thought initially that it didn’t affect children, we’re now dealing with an issue that’s very disturbing.”
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