Coronavirus Live Updates: California Looks to Next Steps as Governors Push Back at Trump Over Reopening Authority

Coronavirus Live Updates: California Looks to Next Steps as Governors Push Back at Trump Over Reopening Authority


Governors push back on Trump’s claim that he “calls the shots.”

As governors rejected President Trump’s insistence that he had the authority to reopen the American economy himself — a position widely challenged by legal scholars — the president took to Twitter on Tuesday to liken them to mutineers.

“We don’t have a king; we have a president,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said Tuesday on NBC’s “Today.” In a separate appearance on MSNBC, he warned that if Mr. Trump tried to force an economic reopening on the states, it could lead to “a constitutional crisis like you haven’t seen in decades, where states tell the federal government, ‘We’re not going to follow your order.’”

One of Mr. Cuomo’s partners in the coordinated effort to reopen the Northeast, Gov. Ned Lamont, Democrat of Connecticut, told CNN that “verbal hand grenades” from Mr. Trump should not “distract from a lot of other good work that’s going on.”

After groups of governors on the East and West Coasts announced Monday that they planned to work together in regional groups to decide when and how to reopen business, Mr. Trump invoked the film “Mutiny on the Bounty” in a Twitter post, likening the governors to mutineers who took over a ship from a captain they believed was abusing his crew.

Asked about the president’s tweet, Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, a Republican who joined a coalition of neighboring states to coordinate a regional approach to reopening, said, “We are a lot more interested in the work than we are in the noise.”

Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, a Republican who is the chairman of the National Governors Association, pushed back after Mr. Trump said on Twitter that the decision to reopen states rested with him, not with governors.

“It’s not my understanding of the Constitution,” Mr. Hogan said in an interview Monday on CNN. He praised the cooperation of the federal government while making clear that he believed the ultimate authority would lie with the states and their governors.

“Governors made decisions to take various actions in their states, based on what they thought was right for their state, based on the facts on the ground, talking with doctors and scientists,” Mr. Hogan said in the interview. “And I think individual governors who made those decisions will have the ultimate decision about what to do with their states.”

The governors have been reacting to Mr. Trump’s signals in recent days that he alone has the ultimate power to make the decision of when to ease the stay-at-home orders and other restrictions that governors across the country have enacted to slow the spread of the virus.

In an extraordinary White House briefing on Monday evening, Mr. Trump claimed that “numerous provisions” in the Constitution, which he did not name, gave him the authority to override the states if they wanted to remain closed. Legal experts say presidents have no such power.

“The president of the United States calls the shots,” Mr. Trump said. “They can’t do anything without the approval of the president of the United States.”

His position — a reversal of his earlier arguments that states were largely in charge of fighting the pandemic — raised profound constitutional questions about presidential power and once again set him on a potential collision course with the states.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, a Democrat who has emerged as an outspoken critic of Mr. Trump, said that he would rely on the advice of scientists and epidemiologists when considering whether to reopen.

“There is no one who wants our state to open up more than I do,” he said at a news conference on Tuesday. “But no matter what the president may say, I will do what’s best to safeguard the health and safety of Illinois residents. That means test, trace and treat. I’m hopeful the president will help us accomplish that.”

Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon said the move toward reopening would be a cautious one, done incrementally. “It’s not going to be easy, and it will take longer than we want,” said Ms. Brown, whose state will be coordinating its next steps with California and Washington State.

Although Mr. Cuomo excoriated Mr. Trump in interview after interview on Tuesday, he adopted a more conciliatory tone by late morning, when he held a news conference in Albany.

“I am not going to fight with him,” Mr. Cuomo said of the president, adding, “This is no time for any division between the federal government and the state government.” But he conceded that he believed Mr. Trump was “clearly spoiling for a fight on this issue.”

Beyond Democratic governors and legal scholars, some of Mr. Trump’s Republican allies have also questioned his sweeping claim of executive power. Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming and a daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, posted on Twitter the text of the Tenth Amendment.

“We do see light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “It’s also perhaps the most difficult and challenging phase.”

Mr. Newsom referred to “a ray of optimism” in California as the numbers of infections and deaths have stabilized, but he said that any decisions about reopening society would be based on “public health, not politics.”

When California begins opening up, he said, life would look different from before, with classrooms reconfigured and restaurants with fewer tables.

“We are not out of the woods yet, and we are not spiking the ball,” he said.

The state has been ahead of the rest of the country in confronting the pandemic, locking down early and so far avoiding worst-case scenarios for infections and deaths.

How the nation’s largest economy calibrates the reopening will have huge ramifications for the rest of the country, providing examples of what works and what doesn’t, especially given limits on testing capacity.

Mr. Newsom warned Californians that even in the next phase, restrictions might be loosened and tightened “as we toggle from stricter to looser” interventions “as data comes in.”

While he avoided laying out a timeline, Mr. Newsom did offer a glimpse of what California’s “new normal” would be like. Face coverings are likely to be a feature of public life, at least for a time. Patrons of restaurants are likely to have their temperature taken before being seated and will be served by someone in a mask and gloves. Menus might be disposable.

“Normal it will not be,” he said. “At least until we have herd immunity and a vaccine.”

Mr. Newsom, who on Monday said California was working with Oregon and Washington on a strategy to begin lifting stay-at-home orders, outlined several indicators that the state would try to meet before relaxing restrictions:

  • expanding testing and contact tracing, with the goal of isolating infected patients;

  • reducing the exposure of vulnerable people, such as the homeless and the elderly;

  • the ability of hospitals to handle a surge of patients;

  • a plan for businesses, schools and other facilities to open while maintaining social distancing; and

  • a plan to reinstitute restrictions if infections rise again.

Mr. Newsom said decisions about relaxing restrictions would be gradual and depend in part on building and tracking immunity within the population.

“When are we going to see some of these stay-at-home orders lifted?” he asked rhetorically. “We want to see hospitalization numbers flatten and start to decline.” The state would also have to build up its testing capacity, better protect older and other vulnerable people and ensure that hospitals have enough supplies.

The governor said he would revisit in two weeks the question of the timing of the lifting of shelter-in-place orders. “Ask me the question then. I know you want the timeline, but we can’t get ahead of ourselves,” he said. “Let’s not make the mistake of pulling the plug too early.”

Large gatherings over the summer “are not in the cards” he said. And when the school year starts in the fall students might attend in shifts staggered through the day to avoid crowded classrooms.

The pandemic is driving state and local tax collections way down — and their expenses way up.

The stay-at-home orders that have shuttered businesses around the country are sending state and local tax collections plummeting, opening yawning shortfalls in their budgets as their expenses are being sharply driven up by the pandemic.

In Oklahoma, the sharp downturn in the oil and gas markets sent tax collections down, creating a shortfall. In Michigan, more than one million people — over a quarter of the state’s work force — have filed for unemployment during the pandemic. Gov. David Ige of Hawaii told tourists to stay away, idling his state’s main economic engine.

All of which is sending tax collections way down. Sales taxes, the biggest source of revenue for most states, have fallen off a cliff as consumers stay home because of the coronavirus pandemic. Personal income taxes, usually the second biggest, started falling in March, when millions lost their paychecks and tax withholdings stopped. April usually brings a big influx of income-tax money, but this year the filing deadlines have been pushed back to July.

“This is going to be horrific for state and local finances,” said Donald J. Boyd, the head of Boyd Research, an economics and fiscal consulting firm, whose clients include states and the federal government.

On the local level, 88 percent of cities anticipate revenue shortfalls this year, and more than half are already drawing up plans to cut staff or services, according to a survey of local officials released Tuesday by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the National League of Cities.

“Our cities are hurting, and our residents are scared,” said Mayor Greg Fischer of Louisville, Ky., where authorities have recorded nearly 600 cases.

The National Governors Association is seeking $500 billion in federal aid to offset what it is describing as “drastic state revenue shortfalls.” Local officials are urging the federal government to send aid to municipal governments around the nation.

But the latest round of stimulus has stalled in Washington.

And the expenses of responding to the public health emergency are swiftly being joined by the expenses of providing services to newly-needy residents.

“What Congress must understand — and what we are shouting in unison today — is that this is not a big city problem; it’s an every city problem,” said Mayor Bryan K. Barnett of Rochester Hills, Mich., who is also president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Even if states are able to stretch their finances temporarily to cover short-term budget shortfalls, the economic recovery is expected to be slow. That means tax revenues from tourism, oil and gas drilling, conventions and other activities are unlikely to bounce back swiftly.

The I.M.F. predicts the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

The International Monetary Fund issued a stark warning about economic damage from the coronavirus, saying on Tuesday that the global economy faces its worst downturn since the Great Depression as shuttered factories, quarantines and national lockdowns cause economic output around the world to collapse.

The grim forecast underscored the magnitude of the economic shock that the pandemic has inflicted on both advanced and developing economies and the daunting task that policymakers face in containing the fallout. With countries already hoarding medical supplies and international travel curtailed, the I.M.F. warned that the crisis threatened to reverse decades of gains from globalization.

In its World Economic Outlook, the I.M.F. projected that the global economy would contract by 3 percent in 2020, an extraordinary reversal from earlier this year, when the fund forecast that it would outpace 2019 and grow by 3.3 percent.

This year’s drop in output would be far more severe than the last recession, when the world economy contracted by less than 1 percent between 2008 and 2009. A 3 percent decline in global output would be the worst since the Great Depression, the I.M.F. said.

The economic damage in the United States was expected to be severe, the I.M.F. said, with the American economy projected to shrink by about 6 percent in 2020. The global group cast doubt about the prospect of a so-called V-shaped recovery in the United States, suggesting that a sharp rise in unemployment and disruptions to supply chains would keep the economy below its previous trend next year.

That trend can be seen in trade data, where slowing economic activity has caused global commerce to plummet. Tracking published by S & P Global Panjiva on Tuesday showed global shipments of goods into the United States fell by 10.1 percent in March, the lowest number of monthly shipments since 2016. Consumer goods have been hit particularly hard, with shipments of furniture, apparel, steel and electronics falling by more than 15 percent last month compared with one year ago.

Other analyses offer a similarly bleak picture. Moody’s said it expected unemployment to peak between 9 percent and 16 percent in the second quarter. For comparison, the unemployment rate peaked at 10 percent during the 2008-09 recession.

While the fiscal stimulus and emergency measures being rolled out across the United States are expected to ease the pain, Moody’s expects some companies, particularly smaller ones, to fail.

“These measures are unlikely to prevent irreversible credit deterioration and, in many cases, outright default for smaller, weaker companies with speculative-grade ratings,” it said.

The I.M.F. projects that the United States economy will contract by 5.9 percent in 2020. In the euro area, it will shrink by 7.5 percent, led by steep declines in Italy and Spain.

Emerging markets and developing economies will not be spared, but in some cases they fare better. In China, where the outbreak began and where draconian measures were imposed to combat its spread, growth is forecast to slow to a rate of 1.2 percent this year. Growth in India is expected to slow to 1.9 percent.

The fund calls for governments to invest in supporting their health care systems and ensuring that workers maintain ties to their jobs during lockdowns so that economic activity can resume when the virus recedes.

“This is a crisis like no other, and there is substantial uncertainty about its impact on people’s lives and livelihoods,” said Gita Gopinath, the I. M. F’s chief economist.

Neel Kashkari, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, said the economic damage was not likely to be erased quickly, especially if people continue to be worried about contracting the virus.

“We know after the Great Depression people carried the scars of that experience with them for many, many years,” Mr. Kashkari said in an interview on the “Today” show, noting that in the bounceback people will need to feel comfortable going out again. “I think the longer that this goes on, the more people who are affected by it, the longer that recovery is going to be.”

New York’s death toll climbed by 778 on Monday, Mr. Cuomo said Tuesday, ending a brief run of declines.

Monday’s deaths pushed the state’s fatality count to 10,834, the highest in the nation. And although New York’s daily toll was higher than others in recent days — 758 people died on Saturday, and there were 671 more deaths on Sunday — Mr. Cuomo said late Tuesday morning that the count was “basically flat at a devastating level of pain and grief.”

Hospitals are still admitting many patients, including 1,649 on Monday, with the virus. And in neighboring New Jersey, the authorities reported 365 deaths, the state’s largest one-day toll since the outbreak began.

Officials like Mr. Cuomo, encouraged by data suggesting a flattening curve, have begun to edge toward setting a strategy for reopening New York, partnering with other states in the Northeast, including New Jersey, to create a coordinated strategy. But Mr. Cuomo has emphasized that the reopening was dependent on New Yorkers continuing to observe the restrictions that were imposed weeks ago.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio, who had warned for weeks that a shuttered New York City’s return to normal depended on increasing its capacity to test for the virus, announced that the city would have a regular supply of about 400,000 test kits per month.

Starting next Monday, the city will buy 50,000 test kits a week from a company in Indiana. And in May, manufacturers and labs in New York City will begin supplying another 50,000 kits per week.

“For the first time, we’re going to have a truly reliable major supply of testing,” Mr. de Blasio said.

The mayor also released the latest statistics on three indicators that he has said will have to trend consistently downward for New York City to reopen.

Only one of those indicators, the number of suspected patients admitted to city hospitals, had declined from Saturday to Sunday, the most recent data available on Tuesday.

The other two — the number of intensive-care unit admissions of suspected virus patients at the city’s public hospitals, and the percentage of people testing positive — had both risen slightly.

Last month, President Trump spoke with Xi Jinping, the Chinese leader, to reach a truce to the sniping over the coronavirus pandemic, paving the way for steady shipments of much-needed medical supplies from China. But as the death toll grows in the United States and hospitals still struggle with equipment shortages, American officials and executives point to new problems in buying equipment or taking donations from China.

Shipments have run into unexpected delays as Chinese officials impose new regulations in response to complaints of low-quality products. And some American officials remain reluctant to accept gifts of gear because they fear giving the Chinese Communist Party a propaganda win.

The two superpowers are vying to project global leadership roles during the crisis, despite deep failures in how senior officials in both nations responded to outbreaks. At the moment, Chinese officials have the power to make it easy or difficult for vital supplies to flow to the United States and other nations. The two sides must work closely to orchestrate the shipments, even as American officials harbor deep suspicions over China’s “donation diplomacy,” a global effort by Beijing involving planeloads of medical gear and delegations of health experts.

The complications could bolster the arguments of some Trump administration officials that American companies should move their supply chains out of China.

Chinese regulators, embarrassed by reports of shoddy medical equipment sent to Europe, imposed a new rule on Friday mandating that customs officers inspect every shipment of masks, ventilators and other medical gear before they leave the country. That was the latest in a series of regulatory actions that had begun to hinder shipments. One American businessman said a new list of items to be inspected was so broad that it even included cotton balls. American officials said that after hearing complaints from U.S. companies, they have had to scramble to deal with the delays on a case-by-case basis.

As the United States debates when and how to let businesses reopen, Italy and Spain, the two European nations hardest hit by the pandemic, are taking small steps to begin easing the restrictions they imposed to stem their outbreaks.

After extending a lockdown from April 13 to May 3, the Italian government reopened some stores on Tuesday, including stationers, bookshops and children’s clothing stores, a sign of a gradual return to normalcy. But the loosening will not apply in regions where infection rates have yet to decline significantly — including Lombardy, Piedmont and Campania — and some other regions took their own approaches.

“Stores, bans and walks. Italy becomes a puzzle,” read a headline in Rome daily La Repubblica Tuesday, a nod to the scattered approach. Italy’s total number of confirmed cases was just shy of 160,000 and deaths surpassed the 20,000 mark on Monday.

And in Spain, more regions reopened factories and building sites on Tuesday, joining others that had already begun a gradual return to work. The easing of restrictions there has triggered a debate over safety. But many factories are so far only recalling just a fraction of their work forces. Spain registered a slight uptick in deaths on Tuesday — 567 overnight, with the total surpassing 18,000 since the start of the crisis.

Abortion clinics in Tennessee and Louisiana filed lawsuits in federal courts on Tuesday to stop abortion bans related to the coronavirus. The moves bring the total of states where legal fights are unfolding to seven; the five others are Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Ohio and Oklahoma.

The filings came a day after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed itself on medication abortion in Texas — a surprise move that means this early-stage abortion involving two pills is now allowed.

The appeals court’s reversal allows, for now, many more women access to abortion, rights groups say, but does nothing to lift the ban on most surgical abortions.

“Medication abortion is only available through 10 weeks in Texas,” said Julie Rikelman, senior litigation director at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “That’s still very difficult for many people because abortions are only available at that point in pregnancy in a few places in Texas.”

A spokeswoman for the Texas attorney general’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Joe Pojman, who heads the Texas Alliance for Life, said in an email: “We are disappointed by the court’s latest action. The latest order fails to recognize the danger that abortion providers pose to the public by refusing to comply with the Governor’s executive order in the same way that other providers of nonemergency surgeries and procedures have done.”

The fight over abortion rights, rather than receding into the background during the pandemic, has intensified as several states banned the procedure in recent weeks as part of emergency measures to fight the virus.

In seven states, state authorities have included abortion as a nonessential medical procedure, arguing that postponement is necessary to preserve medical and protective equipment. Abortion rights groups say the pandemic is being used as a pretense to restrict abortion, and have sued five of the states to stop them.

Out of the states trying to limit abortion, only Texas had been successful; the others have been blocked by judges, but that could change. Especially in Texas, several weeks of legal back-and-forth have caused confusion for patients and their doctors.

A class-action lawsuit is filed on behalf of Celebrity Cruise crew members.

A class-action lawsuit was filed in United States District Court in Miami on Tuesday on behalf of thousands of crew members who worked lately aboard Celebrity Cruise ships, many of whom tested positive for the coronavirus while on board the vessels.

The lawsuit accuses the cruise line of failing to provide protective gear to its workers and being slow to implement sanitary protocols.

Alexandra Nedeltcheva, 54, a Bulgarian waitress, became a plaintiff after she and dozens of others on the Celebrity Apex got sick while the ship was in a French shipyard undergoing repairs. “We asked to wear masks, and they said it was not possible,” Ms. Nedeltcheva said in an interview. “You live in constant fear of dying.”

Nearly 80,000 crew members are still stranded at sea a month after cruise lines suspended operations, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many of them are in quarantine after the departures of sick passengers and crew, and still more are in limbo because of border closings around the world that prevent their repatriation.

“One of the big problems we have seen is that they are very afraid to speak up for fear of losing their jobs,” said Michael Winkleman, a maritime lawyer in Miami who filed the lawsuit.

The cruise line did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Justice Dept. is backing a Mississippi church that is suing over penalties for a drive-in service.

The Justice Department on Tuesday lent its support to a Mississippi church that was penalized for holding drive-in services in defiance of a local order, saying that the law was applied unevenly and infringed on the congregants’ First Amendment rights.

While the Temple Baptist Church in Greenville, Miss., is relatively small and the city government has said it would drop the fines it had issued to parishioners, the Justice Department’s support is in keeping with Attorney General William P. Barr’s efforts to aggressively defend religious freedom rights.

“Even in times of emergency, when reasonable and temporary restrictions are placed on rights, the First Amendment and federal statutory law prohibit discrimination against religious institutions and religious believers,” Mr. Barr said in a statement. “Government may not impose special restrictions on religious activity that do not also apply to similar nonreligious activity.”

The Justice Department is backing the church in its lawsuit against the city and its mayor, Erick Simmons. Though Mississippi had included churches in its list of essential businesses and allowed congregants to gather in accordance with social distancing guidelines, Greenville banned both in-person and drive-through church services for the duration of Mississippi’s shelter-in-place order.

Last week, the city imposed a fine of $500 on each congregant who attended a midweek service where parishioners stayed in their cars to listen to music and a sermon on the radio but allowed residents to visit nearby drive-in restaurants, according to the lawsuit. The city has since withdrawn the fines.

Jailed youths are seeking to be released as the virus spreads.

Across the country, the nation’s youngest offenders who are stuck in detention centers are at a higher risk of contracting the virus simply because of where they are. Close quarters, shared spaces and contact with staff members who rotate in daily make it impossible to follow guidelines to limit contact with other people and wash hands regularly in an effort to avoid contracting the deadly virus.

Lawyers in three states — Maryland, Pennsylvania and Texas — are asking for a mass release of young offenders with underlying health conditions that make them more vulnerable to the virus as well as juveniles incarcerated for nonviolent offenses. Maryland and Pennsylvania have already denied some requests, while public defenders in Harris County, Texas, which includes Houston, are expected to argue for the release of their juvenile clients in the coming days.

Some states, including New Jersey, New York and California, were quick to release adult nonviolent offenders and older people, but have yet to do this for incarcerated youth.

Stocks on Wall Street rose on Tuesday, following global markets higher, after China reported a smaller-than-expected hit to trade and some countries began to take tiny steps to reopen their economies.

The S & P 500 rose more than 2 percent by midday, with shares of companies that have been hardest hit by the virus-related shutdowns — airlines and cruise operators — leading the gains.

Stocks have been slowly climbing their way out of a slump that had wiped trillions of value from financial markets in late February and early March, as investors have begun to look for signs of the eventual recovery from the outbreak. In parts of Europe, a small-scale return to normalcy has begun: Spain allowed some construction work to resume and a few factories to reopen on Monday, and Austria and Italy followed with a gradual easing of restrictions that allowed some shops to reopen.

Stocks were also helped on Tuesday by March trade data from Chinese customs officials that was better than anticipated. But the optimism may not linger, as China’s reopening could be a long and painful process, worsened by slumping demand for its goods in countries dealing with the coronavirus outbreak.

But investors will be tested by a slew of corporate earnings results due out starting this week. On Tuesday, shares of big banks fell after JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo both announced that they were taking substantial provisions for coming loan losses. JPMorgan dropped about 3 percent, while Wells Fargo was down by more than 5 percent, and Citigroup was down nearly 6 percent.

Feeling a sense of panic? Some tools can help you cope.

In the middle of a pandemic, it’s natural to have moments of fear and anxiety. Sometimes, just knowing what’s happening can help, whether it’s learning about how to manage emotions on a personal level or understanding how to put the virus into context on a broader scale.

Reporting was contributed by Tim Arango, Mike Baker, Peter Baker, Katie Benner, Alan Blinder, Julie Bosman, Jonah Engel Bromwich, Michael Cooper, Michael Corkery, Annie Correal, Jim Dwyer, Peter Eavis, Thomas Fuller, Erica L. Green, Maggie Haberman, Jan Hoffman, Miriam Jordan, Sarah Mervosh, Paul Mozur, Matt Phillips, Alan Rappeport, Marc Santora, Eileen Sullivan, Kate Taylor, Edward Wong and Davie Yaffe-Bellany.





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