On Wednesday, the New York Times editorial board urged President Trump to “pressure” a national lockdown, stopping shy of telling him to use his executive power to order one.
As the president’s two-week call for social distancing nears its end, the NYT editors believe that America needs a “coherent national strategy” to better handle the crisis. Rather than just order an outright lockdown, the board suggested that he provide political cover to mayors and governors and use the “bully pulpit” to advocate it.
“Once he does, and governors follow his request, there will be time to debate how soon some controls might be lifted, or how soon certain people, like those under a particular age, might be free to resume something like normal life,” said the Times. “There will be more time then to develop palliative treatments, and more time for the federal government to order up the test kits and ventilators needed nationwide. There will be more time to gather data about which regions, and which people, are most at risk.”
Ultimately, the Times felt that “voluntary” social distancing has not yielded the needed results, considering that people, like the spring breakers in Florida, have been openly flouting such orders.
“Some cities and states, and even entire nations, already have lockdowns in place,” the Times continued. “On Tuesday, India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, ordered a ‘total ban’ on leaving home for the population of 1.3 billion, for the next three weeks. He warned, ‘If you can’t handle these 21 days, this country will go back 21 years.’ Other countries have opted for narrower restrictions, and enforcement has varied. But patchwork approaches, like the one the United States defaulted to in the absence of a national plan, have proven inadequate.”
The Times called for “sweeping” and uniform restrictions across the states and various jurisdictions. On the issue of the economy, while the board shared the president’s concerns about a pending crash, they ultimately chided him for giving people a false hope by saying he’d like to have the country “raring to go by Easter.”
Rather than raise people’s hopes, the Times had a different plan: “announce that, within 24 hours, all nonessential businesses should be shut and residents directed to remain in their homes except for vital trips out, such as to obtain food or medical care.”
Should the country go on lockdown, that would better allow health officials to assess the situation and find the infection hotspots, according to the Times. The board also encouraged the president to use the defense production act to streamline the process of creating needed ventilators and other medical equipment.
While the New York Times editorial board largely disapproves of the president’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, a recent poll from Gallup showed that Americans are largely in agreement with Trump’s strategy.
“Gallup’s new study finds that Trump’s approval among U.S. adults has jumped 5 points since earlier this month, surging from 44 to 49% approval,” reported James Barrett on Wednesday. “That approval rating is the best of his presidency, matching previous highs experienced in late January and early February as the Senate conducted the impeachment trial that ultimately acquitted the president of both of the Democrats’ impeachment articles.”