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Federalism once again at the forefront as states decide when and how to open

Most of the United States has been under stay-at-home orders for over a month now as the COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly spread. Recently President Trump has said that states may start opening as soon as May 1 and has included a list of federal guidelines. Several states are already planning to open, but with differing restrictions and timetables (https://www.cnn.com/interactive/2020/us/states-reopen-coronavirus-trnd/).


We have seen a constant struggle between state and federal governments throughout this crisis. While it is good that the president has opened these decisions up to the governors (as should be the case), will we see pushback from citizens as some states open while others stay closed longer? Many states have seen mass protests over the past few weeks as citizens have called for reduced restrictions to relieve the economic fallout. Attorney General Barr recently reiterated that he will support cases against state and local governments to protect civil liberties. On the flip side, will individuals try and sue their state for opening up "too early".


While the virus has affected regions differently (check out the map for distribution: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/03/mapping-coronavirus-infections-across-the-globe/) some states may hold out despite their numbers. For example, Wisconsin has had almost 6,000 cases with almost 300 deaths. While these numbers are still tragic, they pale in comparison to other states in that region including Illinois and Michigan. Despite these figures, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has said that he intends on keeping his stay-at-home order in effect until May 26. Meanwhile, neighboring state Minnesota plans to open up this week even though they have seen similar numbers.


Texas will be one of the first states to reopen as Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Monday that his stay-at-home order will expire at the end of the week. The first steps of his plan include opening up businesses, movie theaters, libraries, and museums, but at 25% capacity. Will Texas serve as an example to other states or will its success be purely circumstantial considering that other states have been affected more seriously?

Image Credit: Eric Gay

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