It’s just one option on the table, but Donald Trump and his virus task force are seriously considering a nationwide two-week quarantine to slow the spread of COVID-19. Trump is also considering calling up the National Guard to enforce it.
Basically, the White House would ask people to “stay at home” with only grocery and drug stores remaining open. Several states have already announced a “stay at home” policy, with Illinois being added to that list yesterday.
And there are other ideas being considered.
Senior officials have said that dozens of radical ideas are being considered and that the president and his virus task force are moving quickly to protect the nation.
Trump has praised the public for following the rules he has put in place, but the new plans are an acknowledgment that many people are not taking the warnings seriously.
Trump has been allowing state governors to act independently with support from Washington when practicable. But only the federal government can take some actions, like banning all domestic flights.
None of this will happen immediately, although as more people test positive for the virus, our outline of the problem is becoming clearer, as well as the need for swift, decisive action.
The federal government has been reluctant to order a “stay in place” order. But officials have said that the administration has been briefing Congress, states, and industry leaders about a potential shutdown that could start next week and after the president taps the Stafford Act that some say allows a national quarantine.
The goal, said officials, is to stop the spread of the virus and potential deaths.
The unknown: The administration hopes that the number of cases of the coronavirus does not surge too much.
Several states have already called up their National Guard units. But Trump has in mind using them to help enforce the national quarantine.
A knowledgeable source said that Department of Homeland Security officials are telling states that it is ready to mobilize the National Guard and dispatch them with U.S. military and first responders.
The goal is to have them dispatched before any call for a national quarantine. The reason: Stop looters and other violence.
They will announce this as soon as they have troops in place to help prevent looters and rioters and will announce before the end of the weekend.
This is the stuff of nightmares, so let’s hope it won’t be necessary.
Trump’s rationale is that the U.S. should endure a little pain now in order to avoid much worse later. The duration of the quarantine — two weeks — isn’t going to be long enough when states are already closing schools till the end of April. But perhaps after that period of time, the White House will have a much better idea of what they’re up against and can target quarantines to hot spots, avoiding a nationwide lockdown.