In Trump’s leadership vacuum, states, localities, companies, and schools are improvising a response.
Despite his widely panned response, Trump has continued to claim his administration’s efforts have been a great success, ignoring reports about slow testing worsening the problem and a lack of proper training and medical gear for early responders.
“Our team is doing a great job with CoronaVirus [sic]!” he tweeted on Wednesday.
Amid the dearth of consistent information or clear guidance, states, localities, colleges, businesses, and event organizers are trying to fill the void and protect Americans from spreading COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
“This has been mostly a state and local effort. The federal government has been sort of behind the times,” the director of health services in Sacramento County, California, told Politico on Wednesday. “There clearly could have been testing kits available much more early than there were, [meaning] the entire country is [catching up].”
With little instruction beyond hand washing, staying home when sick, and avoiding touching the face, communities, employers, event planners, and institutions are taking an array of steps to keep their workers, constituents, and students safe.
Here is a partial list of what people are doing to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Governors and mayors
- State of Emergency: Several state governors have declared states of emergency, allowing them more financial and logistical flexibility to respond to cases.
- California: Santa Clarita County and the city of San Francisco instituted bans on “mass gatherings” of more than 1,000 people, beginning at midnight on Wednesday. The city of San Jose also adopted a moratorium on evictions of those who can’t pay rent due to the pandemic.
- New York: Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced on Tuesday that he would send the National Guard to New Rochelle in an effort to contain the cases in that community. On Wednesday, he blasted the federal response as verging on the “public health version of Hurricane Katrina” and urged state governments to take control.
- Ohio: Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced Tuesday that the state would urge colleges to switch to remote classes and called for the cancellation of large indoor sporting events and concerts. “The decisions that we make as individuals in the next few days, the next several weeks will really determine how many lives are going be lost in Ohio,” he explained.
- Washington: Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced Wednesday he would restrict gatherings of more than 250 people, including concerts and sporting events, in three counties. “This is not a time to be going out into public in close contact,” he said. “It’s just too dangerous.” Additionally, King County purchased a motel last week to quarantine coronavirus patients.
- District of Columbia: The city Health Department urged Wednesday that all “non-essential mass gatherings, including conferences and conventions, be POSTPONED or cancelled.” It defined mass gatherings “events where 1,000 or more people congregate in a specific location.”
Universities and colleges
- Across the country, at least 130 institutions of higher learning are temporarily canceling in-person classes and replacing them with remote lectures. These include Columbia University, Cornell University, Harvard University, Indiana University, Princeton University, University of Florida, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and several schools in California and Washington.
- The Securities and Exchange Commission asked on Tuesday that its D.C.-based employees work remotely, after one staffer tested positive for coronavirus.
- The Veterans Administration announced it would not allow visitors at the nursing homes it operates, noting those residents are especially vulnerable to COVID-19.
- The Los Angeles Times told reporters on Tuesday that it would limit non-essential reporter travel.
- The New York Times announced on Tuesday its New York and D.C. newsrooms would receive “deep cleaning” after some employees attended a journalism conference with someone who later tested positive.
- Talking Points Memo temporarily closed its offices starting Wednesday, switching to remote work.
- The Washington Post encouraged employees to work from home, if possible, through the end of the month.
- Tech companies in the Seattle area: Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft all urged Seattle-area employees to work from home.
- Twitter, Square: Jack Dorsey, the CEO of both Twitter and Square, announced last week that all employees would be encouraged to work from home, if possible.
- Ride sharing: Lyft is giving drivers 200,000+ bottles of hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies.
- MGM Resorts: The company announced its buffets would temporarily close at ARIA, Bellagio, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, Mirage, Luxor, and Excalabur resorts, starting this Sunday.
- Broadway theaters: The Broadway League, which represents New York City’s Broadway theaters and producers, announced stepped-up efforts to disinfect theaters and backstage areas and to provide hand sanitizer in all Broadway theater lobbies.
- Darden Restaurants: Following public pressure from Judd Legum’s Popular Information newsletter, the company that operates Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, and other dining chains, announced this week that it would begin offering paid leave to its employees.
- Multiple airlines, including Delta, JetBlue, United, and Southwest, sent messages out to customers announcing increased cleaning protocols for airplanes. “Hard surfaces such as lavatories, tray tables, window shades and armrests are thoroughly wiped down with a high-grade disinfectant and multi-purpose cleaner,” United said in a statement last week, noting that aircraft will be taken out of service for decontamination after passengers discovered to have the coronavirus fly.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.