Culture Wars/Current Controversies

The pandemic is dividing blue cities from their red states

By Ronald Brownstein


The struggle to contain the coronavirus pandemic has opened a new front in the long-running conflict between blue cities and red states.

Across a wide array of states with Republican governors, many of the largest cities and counties — most of them led by Democrats — moved aggressively to limit economic and social activity. State officials, meanwhile, refused to impose the strictest statewide standards to fight the virus.

A chorus of big-city officials in red states from Florida, Georgia and Mississippi to Texas, Arizona and Missouri urged their governors to establish uniform statewide rules, arguing that refusing to do so undercut their local initiatives by increasing the risk the disease would cluster in neighboring areas — from which it could easily reinfect their populations.

On Tuesday afternoon, after weeks of complaints from local officials and medical officials, Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a statewide order restricting social interactions to essential activities (albeit with some conspicuous exceptions). Others have followed suit.


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