Washington, April 20 (IANS) An ongoing debate in the US about whether it’s time for Governors to lift their stay-at-home orders meant to curb the spread of COVID-19 has highlighted a discord between federal and state governments, fueled by the pandemic and partisan politics.
Protesters, some armed, have taken to the streets in a number of states, calling for stay-at-home orders issued by their governors to be ended, despite concerns that it may be still early to loosen social distancing restrictions in the country that currently accounts for the highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the world, reports Xinhua news agency.
President Donald Trump has tweeted support for the protesters, calling for “liberating” numerous states, including Michigan and Virginia, claiming that he feels some state orders were “too tough”.
Speaking to ABC News on Sunday, Washington Governor Jay Inslee said that Trump’s tweets were encouraging “people to violate the law”.
“It is dangerous because it can inspire people to ignore things that actually can save their lives,” he said.
Washington was an early epicentre of the pandemic in the US.
Inslee, a former Democratic presidential contender, has joined governors Gavin Newsom of California and Kate Brown of Oregon in a partnership to develop plans to reopen the West Coast.
The debate came days after the White House issued guidelines that defer to states on reopening decisions, but recommended a three-phase approach, as the administration has been eager to put the nation’s economy back on track, which has been hit hard by business closures and job losses.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, a Republican, has announced that the state begins the process of reopening on May 1.
In an interview on NBC News on Sunday, DeWine explained the decision that would make Ohio one of the earliest states ending stay-at-home orders.
“We’re going to do what we think is right, what I think is right, and that is, try to open this economy, but do it very, very carefully so we don’t get a lot of people killed, but we have to come back, and that’s what we’re aiming to do beginning on May 1,” DeWine said.
According to a tally from Johns Hopkins University, as of Monday, the US has 759,467 coronavirus cases, with 40,677 deaths.
New York state, the incumbent epicentre of the pandemic in the US, has 247,815 confirmed cases and 18,298 deaths.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Sunday that they believe the state is “past the peak.”
“We must tread very carefully now. The worst thing that can happen is for us to go through this hell all over again,” the Democrat tweeted. “Social distancing saves lives. Stay Home. Stop the Spread. Save Lives.”
Nearly 60 per cent of US voters have said that they were more concerned that a relaxation of stay-at-home restrictions would lead to more coronavirus deaths than they are that those restrictions will hurt the nation’s economy, according to a new national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released on Sunday.
As for the federal government’s response to the coronavirus, 50 per cent of voters said they’re satisfied with the measures intended to limit the disease’s spread, versus 48 per cent who are dissatisfied.
But only 34 per cent are satisfied with its efforts in ensuring that there are enough tests to suppress its spread.
Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Sunday that “testing is the key to opening our economy”.
Trump and Pelosi have traded barbs over the federal response to the coronavirus crisis as the administration has been scrutinized for downplaying the threat from the coronavirus early on and faulted for delays in testing.
Vice President Mike Pence told Fox News on Sunday that there was a need to ramp up coronavirus testing in the nation, where 150,000 tests are currently being performed each day.