The controversy that erupted Saturday when President Donald Trump threatened state quarantines was only the latest dispute over how the country balances individual liberties with community interests during a national crisis like no other.
Civil libertarians say governments have the power to take extraordinary measures to stop the pandemic, but the power is not without limits.
CDC issues travel advisory for New York, New Jersey, Connecticut

Trump declared on Saturday he was considering quarantines over New York, New Jersey and Connecticut but pulled back after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other officials questioned the lawfulness of such a move. Trump opted for a “travel advisory” instead, under which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have urged people from the three states to refrain from nonessential travel for 14 days.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” Sunday that Trump reconsidered after discussions with health experts.
“(W)e made it clear and he agreed, it would be much better to do what’s called a strong advisory. .. You don’t want to get to the point … that you’re enforcing things that would create a bigger difficulty, morale and otherwise, when you could probably accomplish the same goal.”
Fauci says Trump agreed not to invoke a strict quarantine after intensive White House discussions

Fauci says Trump agreed not to invoke a strict quarantine after intensive White House discussions

What can government do in times like these?

Civil libertarians say steps to prevent the spread of the deadly virus should be weighed in terms of whether effective — and lawful.
“People are afraid. Governments are not entirely sure what to do,” David Cole, national legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said Sunday. “The balance between civil liberties and safety changes in the context of a pandemic, but civil liberties and civil rights don’t get thrown out the window.”
Governments have struggled through the ages to deal with emergencies, whether they be an earthquake, hurricane or pestilence, said Ilya Shapiro, director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies.
“You have to tailor your emergency measures to the nature of the emergency. In a hurricane, you evacuate the coasts. In a virus situation, there is no reason to evacuate the coasts,” said Shapiro, adding that his overriding concern is whether the “cures” become worse than the disease and whether some measures become long-term, such as any new government surveillance and tracking.
Legal experts say that broad measures that are reasonable and apply to everyone, for example “shelter in place” requirements, are generally lawful. But if government begins to target certain individuals or businesses, there should be ways to ensure a hearing and due process of law. Quarantines have been imposed over the centuries, but longstanding case law dictates that they not be unreasonable or arbitrary.
With the country just weeks into the current pandemic and a barrage of shutdown orders and travel restrictions, it is difficult to predict the depth of this new chapter of tensions regarding civil liberties.
NRA sues California Gov. Gavin Newsom and other state officials over gun store closures

NRA sues California Gov. Gavin Newsom and other state officials over gun store closures

Certainly, the country has faced natural disasters and a multitude of regional health emergencies in the past century. But none would compare to this national pandemic.
Its toll is fast-moving and so are the responses of government officials.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who had already instituted a 14-day self-quarantine for anyone traveling to Texas from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and the city of New Orleans, on Sunday afternoon said that anybody driving into Texas from Louisiana, as well as anybody traveling from various places around the country, would have to self-quarantine for 14 days.
“Presuming that a random driver from Louisiana poses a greater risk of contagion than a random Texan is wholly arbitrary,” said Cole of the ACLU. “We are one country, and should be fighting this together.”
Abbott said he would be dispatching state troopers at and near entry points from Louisiana to enforce the order.
Meanwhile, lawsuits already have been filed over whether abortion clinics or gun stores, for example, can be regarded as nonessential services. And detainees in immigration and pretrial detention who might be especially vulnerable to contagion have been challenging their confinement.
Voters and their advocates in many states are trying to ensure that electoral systems are updated, for example, with greater mail-in options, to ensure ballots can be cast and counted in upcoming presidential primaries and the general election. And concerns are emerging about discrimination and rationing as hospitals become overwhelmed with the sick.

Deciding what’s essential during a situation

Since the early 1800s, federal and state courts have granted governments broad latitude to impose quarantines for public health. The Congressional Research Service has documented quarantine laws over the years, noting that states typically focused on specific disease outbreaks such as typhoid fever and tuberculosis. CRS noted that no large-scale US quarantine has been in place since the 1918 influenza pandemic.
In a March 17 report, updated after recent travel restrictions related to coronavirus were enacted, CRS asserted that “courts have recognized that expeditious actions by government officials are frequently required to protect public health or safety,” and it observed that judges are apt to let government act fast to head off health risks.
Beyond travel restrictions, government actions are beginning to be tested. Federal judges in recent days ordered the release of certain immigrants at high-risk of illness held in detention facilities.
Federal judge orders release of some immigrants in detention due to coronavirus outbreak, blasts ICE

Federal judge orders release of some immigrants in detention due to coronavirus outbreak, blasts ICE

Abortion-rights advocates have sued state officials that have tried to shut down clinics, as in Ohio and Texas, categorizing them as nonessential services in coronavirus orders. Gun rights activists have similarly challenged state laws that would close firearms stores. The National Rifle Association on Friday sued California over such a policy.
Shapiro of the Cato Institute, who is a longtime supporter of broad Second Amendment rights, said Sunday that “a right of self-defense is paramount in these times” and if states close gun stores, they could “inflame a panic.”
When Cuomo pushed back on Trump’s proposal for a three-state quarantine, the Democratic governor predicted it could cause “mayhem” and questioned how officials could even enforce such a lockdown.
Enforcement is an overriding dilemma for any restrictions as officials simultaneously try to ease jail and prison crowding.
Said the ACLU’s Cole: “The last thing anyone wants to do now is put more people in detention, where there is tremendous risk of coronavirus infection and spread.”
Employees are protesting Amazon’s decision to keep the Staten Island warehouse open despite news of a confirmed case of the virus there last week, said Christian Smalls, an assistant manager at the facility who is leading the walkout.
Many more employees have tested positive for the virus at the facility than the company has publicly acknowledged, Smalls said, claiming that as many as five to seven workers have been diagnosed with the coronavirus.
An Amazon spokesperson said in a statement Sunday evening that the company’s top priority is the health and safety of its employees.
The spokesperson said that Amazon “recently implemented daily temperature screenings in our operations sites as an additional preventative measure to support the health and safety of our customers and employees.”
“We believe direct communication is the best avenue to discuss feedback, and our teams onsite are speaking directly with employees each day to hear their questions and discuss options that are available in this ever changing environment,” the spokesperson said.
The walkout will begin at 12:30 p.m. and could involve anywhere between 50 and 200 people, Smalls estimated. Following the walkout, the workers will gather at a nearby public bus stop and speak to the press.
“The plan is to cease all operations until the building is closed and sanitized,” Smalls told CNN in an interview. “We’re not asking for much. We’re asking the building to be closed and sanitized, and for us to be paid.”
Before deciding on the walkout, Smalls, who said he manages roughly 500-600 people on a weekly basis, said that every day for the past week, he has sought the help of the facility’s general manager — to no avail.
Smalls said he hopes Amazon relents quickly, because facilities like his are “breeding grounds for this pandemic.” Employees are being advised to continue working until they receive confirmation of a positive test result, Smalls said. But, he said, that may be too late, due to the virus’s days-long incubation period. Smalls added that he has attempted to contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office, but has yet to receive a response.
On Sunday, Amazon implemented daily temperature checks for everyone entering the Staten Island facility at the beginning of their shifts, according to one worker employed there and an internal post in Amazon’s employee app that was viewed by CNN Business.
In an interview with CNN’s Brian Stelter on Sunday, Jay Carney, Amazon’s senior vice president of global corporate affairs, said ensuring the safety of the company’s US employees was “our first and primary concern.”
“This is our first and primary concern, which is making sure Amazon employees — 500,000-plus in the United States — are protected as they can be as they go about doing this heroic work for their fellow citizens,” said Carney. He added: “We’ve also told employees if they’re uncomfortable coming to work, if they’re worried about their own health, they can take unlimited unpaid time off through the end of April with no repercussions at all. We don’t want anyone to feel like their job depends on coming to work in this circumstance.”
Amazon has previously said that employees who fall ill or who are quarantined will receive two weeks’ pay, and that Amazon contractors who test positive for the virus may apply for up to two weeks’ pay from a $25 million relief fund the company has established. The company has also said it is taking “extreme measures to ensure the safety of employees at our site[s].” That includes regularly sanitizing door handles, elevator buttons, lockers and touch screens, Amazon said, as well as staggering shifts and spreading out chairs in break rooms.
In addition, workers are being asked to keep at least six feet from one another during the workday, according to Smalls.
– Sara Ashley O’Brien contributed to this report
The situation is so dire one New Jersey doctor described it as “sending medical professionals like lambs to the slaughterhouse.”
Dean Obeidallah

Concerns about a dwindling supply of PPE are not new. Back on February 7, the World Health Organization sounded alarm bells about “the limited stock of PPE,” noting demand was 100 times higher than normal for this equipment.
Yet the same day as the WHO warning, the Trump administration announced that it was transporting to China nearly 17.8 tons (more than 35,000 pounds) of “masks, gowns, gauze, respirators, and other vital materials.” As Secretary of State Mike Pompeo noted in the press release announcing this shipment, “These donations are a testament to the generosity of the American people.”
Americans indeed are a generous people. We want to help those in need. And at the time these medical supplies were shipped, more than 28,000 people in China were infected with nearly 600 deaths attributed to the virus. But how could Trump allow tons of vital medical equipment Americans to be transported to another country in February if, as he has claimed since January, he fully understood the risk the United States was facing from the virus.
How to reopen America

How to reopen America

As a reminder, the first known case of coronavirus case on US soil was confirmed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on January 21, 2020.
The next day, Trump was asked about the virus while attending the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos. CNBC anchor Joe Kernen asked the President: “The CDC has identified a case of coronavirus in Washington state … have you been briefed by the CDC?” to which Trump responded, “I have.” Kernen continued, “Are there worries about a pandemic at this point?” Trump declared: “No. Not at all. And — we’re — we have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s — going to be just fine.”
Trump again on January 30 assured Americans he understood the threat posed by the virus and was prepared, stating, “We have it very well under control,” adding, “We’re working very closely with China and other countries, and we think it’s going to have a very good ending for us … that I can assure you.”
On February 5, US lawmakers were pressing the Trump administration on its preparedness for a possible widespread coronavirus outbreak in the US, with some slamming the administration’s failure to communicate with the states about how the White House would be addressing it.
Why America has the world's most confirmed Covid-19 cases

Why America has the world's most confirmed Covid-19 cases

By February 6, the United States had 12 known confirmed cases in Wisconsin, California, Washington, Arizona, Massachusetts and Illinois — and with mass testing not yet begun the number of infected was likely far higher.
It was in this climate that the Trump administration announced its aid transport to China. Pompeo bragged on Twitter that the administration had “coordinated with U.S. organizations to transport” goods to China including, “Personal protective equipment.”
Now compare that to March 18, when Trump defiantly told governors pressing him to help their states obtain similar equipment: “The federal governments not supposed to be out there buying vast amounts of items and then shipping,” adding, “We’re not a shipping clerk.”
Just three days after these goods arrived in China, Trump again bragged that the United States was in “great shape” when it came to the virus. He then added to assure an increasingly concerned America about Covid-19, “You know, a lot of people think that goes away in April with the heat — as the heat comes in,” reiterating, “Typically, that will go away in April.”
I won’t be so glib as to ask what happened to Trump’s “America First” policy. That’s too easy. But the fact Trump claimed to comprehend the risk posed by the coronavirus and then shipped nearly 18 tons of equipment that includes much of what our medical staff are now pleading for means either he was lying or is dangerously incompetent. You can pick which one you believe. But the results are the same for our valiant health care workers who are working tirelessly to save lives from Covid-19.
Here is a fact check of his Sunday briefing in the Rose Garden, which we’ll update as we check additional items:
Trump falsely denied that he claimed governors from certain states are asking for equipment they don’t need. At Sunday’s briefing, PBS Newshour’s White House Correspondent Yamiche Alcindor asked the President whether he felt his comments and belief “that some of the equipment that governors are requesting they don’t actually need” would have an impact on the federal distribution of ventilators and other medical resources. As Alcindor attempted to finish her question, the President interjected, “I didn’t say that,” before going on to say it wouldn’t have an impact.
Facts First: He did say that. On March 26 during a Fox News interview with Sean Hannity, Trump said, “a lot of equipment’s being asked for that I don’t think they’ll need” specifically in reference to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and following a tirade against Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Trump later said he felt Cuomo was requesting an unnecessary number of ventilators. “I have a feeling that a lot of the numbers that are being said in some areas are just bigger than they are going to be,” Trump said. “I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators.”
When Alcindor noted that she was quoting from the President’s interview with Hannity, Trump said: “Take a look at my interview. What I want to do is if there is something wrong, we have to get to the bottom of it.”

Ammunition

Trump said, “I’ll never forget the day when a general came and said, ‘Sir’ — my first week in office — ‘we have no ammunition.’ ” He repeated this claim later in the briefing without citing the general, claiming that the US had “no ammunition” before he had taken action.
Facts First: Trump was exaggerating. We don’t know what a general might have told him in private, but it’s not true that the US had “no ammunition” at the beginning of his presidency. Rather, according to the public comments of military leaders, there was a shortfall in certain kinds of munitions, particularly precision-guided bombs, late in the Obama presidency and early in the Trump presidency. You can read a full fact check of Trump’s claims about munitions levels here.
Trump’s assertion came after he was asked about comments the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, made earlier Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that based on models, 100,000 Americans or more could die from the virus.
On Sunday, Trump said during an evening press conference at the White House that he’d decided to extend the nationwide social distancing guidelines — which include suggested limits on large gatherings — for another 30 days to April 30.
Trump’s assertion came after he was asked about comments the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, made earlier Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that based on models, 100,000 Americans or more could die from the virus.
On Sunday, Trump said during an evening press conference at the White House that he’d decided to extend the nationwide social distancing guidelines — which include suggested limits on large gatherings — for another 30 days to April 30.
Here is a fact check of his Sunday briefing in the Rose Garden, which we’ll update as we check additional items:
Trump falsely denied that he claimed governors from certain states are asking for equipment they don’t need. At Sunday’s briefing, PBS Newshour’s White House Correspondent Yamiche Alcindor asked the President whether he felt his comments and belief “that some of the equipment that governors are requesting they don’t actually need” would have an impact on the federal distribution of ventilators and other medical resources. As Alcindor attempted to finish her question, the President interjected, “I didn’t say that,” before going on to say it wouldn’t have an impact.
Facts First: He did say that. On March 26 during a Fox News interview with Sean Hannity, Trump said, “a lot of equipment’s being asked for that I don’t think they’ll need” specifically in reference to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and following a tirade against Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Trump later said he felt Cuomo was requesting an unnecessary number of ventilators. “I have a feeling that a lot of the numbers that are being said in some areas are just bigger than they are going to be,” Trump said. “I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators.”
When Alcindor noted that she was quoting from the President’s interview with Hannity, Trump said: “Take a look at my interview. What I want to do is if there is something wrong, we have to get to the bottom of it.”

Ammunition

Trump said, “I’ll never forget the day when a general came and said, ‘Sir’ — my first week in office — ‘we have no ammunition.’ ” He repeated this claim later in the briefing without citing the general, claiming that the US had “no ammunition” before he had taken action.
Facts First: Trump was exaggerating. We don’t know what a general might have told him in private, but it’s not true that the US had “no ammunition” at the beginning of his presidency. Rather, according to the public comments of military leaders, there was a shortfall in certain kinds of munitions, particularly precision-guided bombs, late in the Obama presidency and early in the Trump presidency. You can read a full fact check of Trump’s claims about munitions levels here.
“The iHeart Living Room Concert for America,” presented by Fox, is set to air tonight at 9 p.m. ET. So yes, get your vocal chords ready, but also have your credit cards ready because this hourlong special is meant to raise funds for the health care workers and first responders working on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.
Here’s what else you need to know:

Who’s performing?

The concert will be hosted by Elton John and is expected to include performances by Billie Eilish, Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys, the Backstreet Boys, Tim McGraw, Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day, Camila Cabello, H.E.R., Sam Smith and more, according to iHeart Radio.
All the artists will appear from their homes and be “filmed with their personal cell phones, camera and audio equipment,” according to a news release from Fox.

Where can you watch it?

The concert is scheduled to air tonight at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT on Fox across all of its linear and digital platforms. You can also listen to the concert on iHeartMedia radio stations and the iHeartRadio app or watch it on TV streaming services such as Hulu Live TV or YouTube TV.

Where will the funds go?

The donations raised through the benefit concert will go to Feeding America, a non-profit organization that feeds more than 46 million people through its network of more than 200 food banks, and First Responders Children’s Foundation, which provides support to the families of first responders who are struggling financially during the coronavirus outbreak.
Motorists from Connecticut, Louisiana, New Jersey and New York will be required to isolate for 14 days upon entry to Florida or for the duration of their visit, whichever is shorter, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) said.
Law enforcement officers are directing travelers entering Florida on Interstates 10 and 95 to weigh stations. Depending on the route they have arrived by, motorists are then being allowed to proceed on the highway or pulled aside for further screening, the department said in a release Saturday.
Those entering the state will be required to complete a form that includes each traveler’s contact information and trip details, according to the release.
“Failure to complete the form and failure to follow any isolation or quarantine order from DOH are a violation of Florida law,” it says.
Travelers will be provided with a card containing contact information and guidance if they experience Covid-19 symptoms while in isolation.

Commercial vehicles can bypass checkpoints

The highway checkpoints have been introduced under Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s executive orders to try to limit community spread of coronavirus in his state.
Last Tuesday, DeSantis mandated a 14-day self-quarantine or isolation period for travelers coming to Florida from airports in cities or states with substantial community spread.
On Friday, he extended the order to travelers entering by road.
The order does not apply to people performing military, emergency, health or infrastructure response, or people involved in any commercial activity.
FDOT says that commercial vehicles may bypass the coronavirus checkpoints by driving in the left lane.
As of Sunday afternoon, Florida had reported 4,238 cases of coronavirus and 55 deaths.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday advised residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut not to travel domestically after the number of reported coronavirus deaths doubled to more than 2,000 nationwide within two days.
The three states make up more than half of the 133,900-plus cases and 2,352 deaths nationwide.
The CDC urged residents of the three states to “refrain from nonessential domestic travel for 14 days effective immediately.” The states would have “full discretion” on implementing the advisory, which exempts employees in critical fields.
Dow (INDU) futures were down 371 points, or about 1.7%. S&P 500 (SPX) futures fell around 1.8% and Nasdaq (COMP) futures were down around 1.5%.
Stocks turned positive last week — and the Dow even left the bear market after climbing more than 20% from its recent low — as lawmakers and central bankers around the world made progress on measures to bolster economies weakened by coronavirus. On Friday, the US House of Representatives passed and President Donald Trump signed a $2 trillion stimulus package aimed at helping American workers, businesses and industries grappling with the outbreak.
But the virus continues to spread, threatening, among other things, jobs, corporate earnings and travel. Initial US jobless claims soared to 3.28 million, the highest on record, in the week ended March 21.
The United States now has more coronavirus cases than any other country in the world, with more than 136,000 cases confirmed as of Sunday. The Centers for Disease Control issued a travel advisory urging people in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to “refrain from non-essential domestic travel” for the next two weeks.
Trump announced Sunday that the United States will extend its set of social distancing guidelines until April 30. He said he hopes the country will be on its way to recovery by June 1.