President Trump is still leaving it up to the states to determine whether they will issue their own. And experts, including the administration's own infectious diseases expert, are concerned those orders aren't happening nationwide.
"I leave it up to the governors," Trump says. "The governors know what they're doing," the president said during Friday night's Coronavirus Task Force briefing.
Earlier this week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was under pressure from health care experts and local officials to issue a stay-at-home order, as images of spring breakers and sun-seekersamid a pandemic swept the internet, and as the number of cases in the state began to tick upwards. But DeSantis, a Republican governor of the nation's fourth-most-populous state, was reluctant to do so.
If there had been some recommendation from the president's Coronavirus Task Force, DeSantis said earlier this week, that would weigh heavily on his decision about issuing a stay-at-home order. But the president, asked point-blank on national television Wednesday if he would make a recommendation that DeSantis shutter much of his state, declined to do so.
"So unless we see something obviously wrong, we're going to let the governors do it," Mr. Trump responded during a White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing. "... But in the case of Governor DeSantis, you know, there's two thoughts to it, and two very good thoughts to it. And he's been doing a great job in every respect, so we'll see what happens."
Eventually, DeSantis did so late Wednesday, as public pressure mounted and the number of confirmed cases in the Sunshine State surpassed 7,000. He cited the president's as part of his rationale for taking action.
The remaining states that have yet to issue a statewide version of a stay-at-home order as of Friday evening — Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, South Carolina, Utah and Wyoming — are all run by Republican governors who are more reluctant than some of their counterparts to impose restrictions on individual liberties and damage the economy. Alabama and Missouri announced stay-at-home orders late Friday.
These states aren't without some guidelines and restrictions, though. Counties have imposed their own stay-at-home orders. And Arkansas, for instance, has banned large gatherings and shuttered some businesses, without issuing a stay-at-home order. North Dakota has ordered the shuttering of some non-essential businesses. And South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster has ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses. But they've stopped short of issuing broader directives.
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Sitt, who has issued guidelines encouraging older and vulnerable populations to stay home, says statewide orders restricting movement aren't realistic. Some local jurisdictions within Oklahoma already have some version of a stay-at-home or safer-at-home order.
"In my opinion, I cannot shut things down and bunker in place," Sitt said Wednesday.
Utah Governor Gary Herbert in March said a shelter-in-place order "sounds a little bit more like a World War II effort," and said he thinks encouraging people to stay home instead without any legal force is "just a better way to approach it."
That isn't to say some Republican governors haven't led the way on stay-at-home orders and rigorous guidelines to stop the spread of COVID-19. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine obtained a court order on March 5 to shut down a popular sports festival before the state had a single confirmed case. He was also the first governor in the nation to shutter schools statewide. Maryland GOP Governor Larry Hogan followed closely behind DeWine, becoming the second governor in the nation to shutter schools. Hogan and his team have been front-and-center in providing regular updates to inform residents, who are now living under a stay-at-home order.
Mr. Trump has explained his rationale for not recommending stay-at-home orders for states like Florida by explaining each state is different, and not all have "thousands" of cases.
"There are some — well, they don't have the problem," Mr. Trump said on Wednesday of various unnamed states. "They don't have thousands of people that are positive, or thousands of people that even think they might have it — or hundreds of people, in some cases."
Every state in the country has at least 100 cases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although many of the states without stay-at-home orders also have sparsely populated rural areas, they still range from 159 confirmed cases in North Dakota to over 2,000 confirmed cases in South Carolina, according to the CDC, and some states with fewer cases do have stay-at-home orders.
Reuters/Ipsos polling has found that Republicans and Democrats are now closer to sharing the same opinion about the level of the virus' threat to them personally. Of those surveyed from March 18-24, 76% of Democrats and 63% of Republicans said they considered the virus to be a personal threat. Only a week before, 63% of Democrats and 49% of Republicans considered the virus to be a personal threat.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a front-and-center member of the president's Coronavirus Task Force, said on CNN Thursday that he doesn't understand why stay-at-home orders
"I don't understand why that's not happening," he said.