New York Times editorial board calls for national lockdown over coronavirus

New York Times editorial board calls for national lockdown over coronavirus
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The New York Times editorial board is calling for a national lockdown in the U.S. to combat the outbreak of the coronavirus as the growing number of confirmed cases begins to overwhelm health systems in parts of the country.

"President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump orders US troops back to active duty for coronavirus response Trump asserts power to decide info inspector general for stimulus gives Congress Fighting a virus with the wrong tools MORE needs to call for a two-week shelter-in-place order, now, as part of a coherent national strategy for the coronavirus to protect Americans and their livelihoods," the editorial board wrote Tuesday, arguing that the U.S. had passed the point "where aggressive, targeted efforts at tracking and containment ... have a realistic chance of success."

The editorial board acknowledged that Trump does not have the authority to impose a national lockdown, though it urged him to use his platform to "put pressure on, and provide political cover for, governors to take the hard steps that are needed."

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"As the president’s own health advisers warn, the worst of the coronavirus pandemic is yet to come," it added. "The nation’s slow and spotty response has allowed the virus to spread to every state. Modeling by researchers at the Imperial College London indicates that upward of two million lives could be lost to the pandemic unless America somehow manages to 'flatten the curve.'"

The novel coronavirus, which originated in China, has infected more than 415,000 people worldwide, including more than 52,100 individuals in the U.S., according to a Johns Hopkins University database. More than 50 percent of the confirmed cases have been reported in New York, according to Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force.

The spread has prompted businesses and schools to close en masse as state and local governments work to slow the spread of the disease. 

The Trump administration on March 16 issued guidelines urging Americans throughout the country to avoid restaurants and bars, limit nonessential travel, and keep in-person gatherings to 10 people or fewer. Trump said Tuesday that he's hoping to have the U.S. "opened up" by Easter. 

Though health officials have said that social distancing requirements may be needed for weeks, especially as more testing is conducted. 

"Rather than raising false expectations of a rapid and full return to business as usual, the president needs to be pursuing even more drastic measures," the editorial board argued. "He should 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."