Will Trump declare a national shelter-in-place order or a lockdown?

  • It’s unlikely that Donald Trump would order a national lockdown
  • It’s unclear whether the president could make a legal proclamation like that
  • China, Italy, and India have previously instituted national lockdowns.

Despite rising cases of coronavirus, it appears a national shelter-in-place order or lockdown in the U.S. is unlikely. This is largely due to legal barriers to doing so, as well as political pressures, according to The Atlantic.

In Wuhan, China, the rate of recovery from COVID-19 has been attributed to a strict lockdown, which has recently been lifted. After 10 weeks of monitoring its population and keeping people home, China slowly allowed the public to begin returning to work. Lockdowns in Italy and India, though, continue to be enforced. 

The suppression of personal freedoms and high surveillance of citizens is at odds with Western democracies, according to The Atlantic. These pressures to maintain individual liberty and freedom of movement are thought to be part of why the U.S. has not issued a national shelter-in-place order or lockdown.

It’s the opinion of Dr. Deborah Birx, who was appointed to the Office of the Vice President as the coronavirus coordinator. In an interview with CDC Director Robert Redfield, he indicated to Stat News that Birx believed too few people are adhering to social distancing and shelter-in-place guidelines, and he agreed. 

The legal boundaries which prevent the president from declaring a national shelter-in-place or lockdown order stem from legalities that bar the federal government from making such an order. State sovereignty keeps the federal government, and its executive, from superseding the power of governors. Even then, governors have historically only been able to limit travel within their own states, leaving intrastate travel a regulatory taboo. 

Source: The Atlantic, The State Department, Stat News, CBS News

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