Source: NBC News
While communities across the nation are suffering from coronavirus, the federal government has been way behind the play. The federal government had access to reports that revealed the extent to which the virus could uproot American lives well before it took hold of communities. They failed to take necessary steps to prevent its spread. Now, state leaders like Governor Roy Cooper are fighting tooth and nail to flatten the curve and keep people safe.
According to an interview with Senator Tom Cotton in National Review, the Arkansas Republican repeatedly raised concerns with the Trump Administration, writing letters to various departments as early as January. Cotton spoke to President Trump by January 29, urging him to take seriously the possibility of an outbreak.
Even given the alarms raised around them, the Trump administration was slow to act. Now the pandemic is on American soil. The federal response has been lackluster and colored by spats between the president and statewide leaders who have offered anything short of praise for the administration.
“Because the federal government was so slow to act, you saw state leaders, both Republicans and Democrats, stepping into that void and taking matters into their own hands,” Asher Hildebrand told NBC News. Hildebrand is a public policy professor at Duke University and former chief of staff for Rep. David Price.
Hildebrand listed a number of governors who have stepped up to the challenge, among them Cuomo of New York, DeWine of Ohio and Cooper of North Carolina.
“With two major hurricanes in the past four years, it feels as if Cooper has been in crisis management mode for his entire first term,” Hildebrand told NBC news. “Fortunately, this has prepared him well to act decisively, communicate effectively with his citizens and work cooperatively with his Republican Legislature and president during this crisis.”
Governors have received plaudits from across the nation, particularly in comparison to the efforts of the federal government during the pandemic. Polling shows that Americans have more confidence in their governor than in President Trump with respect to handling the coronavirus.
Experts told NBC News that many of the governors in the Deep South were failing to respond to the spreading pandemic. In Florida, Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has been slow to act, leaving beaches open while spring breakers flock to the coast. Texas, under Governor Greg Abbott, was also slow to declare a state of emergency or to close bars and restaurants, Hildebrand said.
Governor Cooper, however, has been proactive and serious in his response to coronavirus. On February 11, Cooper created the Governor’s Novel Coronavirus Task Force. By March 10, Cooper declared a state of emergency in North Carolina, followed by regular executive orders bringing the state to a close in order to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, including closure of public schools and eventually all non-essential businesses. On March 27, Cooper ordered residents to stay-at-home as much as possible until at least April 29.
Read more about what marks experts give various governors for their coronavirus response from NBC News.